Spanish Regions Criticize National Hydrological Plan

Sept. 8, 2000

The Spanish Environmental Ministry has published its national hydrological plan, drawing criticism from different regions over access to scarce water resources.

The proposal to construct a $15.7 billion, 434-mile canal transferring water from the Ebro River basin in northern Spain to the southeastern Mediterranean coast drew criticism from environmental groups and regional governments.

The government of Aragon said the plan to transfer water was "an unjustifiable attempt to take water from the poorest, most under populated parts of Spain and pipe it to the rich, highly developed Mediterranean coast." It called for "alternative solutions more in keeping" with the recently finalized European Union water framework directive.

Spanish environment minister Jaume Matas said the Ebro transfer would not result in any expansion of irrigated agriculture, which currently consumes 80 percent of Spain's water supply. He also announced a 0.03 euros per cubic meter tax to be levied on transferred water to compensate donor regions.

Juan Valero of the National Irrigators Federation said farmers generally would not be able to afford water if the full costs of transfers were passed on.

(Source: Environmental Data Services Ltd.)

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