Yesterday, after the decision of the Council of Ministers was published in the BOE, a unilateral decision of the Ministry for Ecological Transition and endorsed by the National Water Council controlled by Teresa Ribera, the director of the Water Institute of the University of Alicante, Joaquin Melgarejo drew accounts. “If the change in the parameters of the operating regulations had been approved in December 2020, Alicante and Murcia would have run out of 66 hm³ of water from the Tagus this year.” Apart from the appeal of the County Council and farmers, the Council prepares its own, which it can present on its own, but not the County Council.
The reaction of the Provincial Council and the irrigators occurs just after publishing in the BOE the resolution of the Council of Ministers certifying the specific change of the operating rules of the Tajo-Segura transfer, which leaves the maximum monthly shipment at 27 hm3, eleven less than with the rules that were in force since 2013. A step forward in the roadmap to gradually replace the water transfer of the Tagus for desalinated water, which will take even more pace in mid-2022, when the new Tagus hydrological plan comes into force, and the maximum delivery will have to be cut even further as the operating rules will have to be recalculated again because there will be fewer water circulating through the river as the Ecological flow.
“The transfer cut is the first nail in the coffin, in the Tajo-Segura shroud”
For the moment, the modification of this Tuesday will prevent that, for example, in a good year, such as the last one we have had, they stop reaching around 66 hm³, which have been transferred since January, and that must be supplied by desalinated water in Torrevieja, that, right now, neither can it produce it. With the current exploitation rules, the maximum annual transfer may not exceed 324 hm3, when at least 400 hm3 would be needed, the water deficit of the Segura basin. Desalinated water that costs 0.60 euros / m3 for the 0.17 euros / m3 of the Tagus flow.
The president of the Provincial Council, Carlos Mazon, He was blunt again. «We are before a new outrage by the Government to the province of Alicante, the first nail in the shroud of the Tajo-Segura coffin, and we must react to the unreason of the Council of Ministers in three ways: legal, political and social. There are three months to present the appeal but we will work quickly. However, I have no choice but to insist that the best that can happen to the Tagus-Segura is a change in the central government. Mazón also took the opportunity to criticize “the double game of the PSOE. You cannot spend the whole day saying that the transfer is inalienable and looking the other way when it is cut back ».
“The CEDEX technicians themselves proposed to delay the change of the rules to 2022″ ”
Joaquín Melgarejo, director of the Water Institute of the University of Alicante, explained, after thoroughly reviewing the BOE, the plot line in which the legal services of the Provincial Council are already working to draft the appeal before a decision of the Government that, on the other hand side, it is legal because the Transfer Law of 2014 -last revision- contemplates the possibility of modifying the rules to improve water management, as the Government maintains.
From the outset, the Provincial Council and the irrigators denounce that the CEDEX report is ‘cooked’, since It was based on the rainfall data from the last great drought in the headwaters of the Tagus (2014-2017) and not, for example, from the 2019-2020 period. “If the CEDEX technicians had taken that series, the cut would have stayed from 38 hm3 to 30 hm3, which would have given us a cushion of water,” Melgarejo stressed. The resource will focus on the approach of the experts of the Ministry for Ecological Transition, who advised rdelay the change of the rules, and in that the step forward of the Executive, already black on white, violates the principle of transparency, and is arbitrary and disproportionate.
“They lie to us and the water they cut us will not go to Castilla-La Mancha, but to Portugal”
José Vicente Andreu, president of Asaja-Alicante, described the fact as “an absolute perversity that, in addition to forcing us to pay five times more for water due to the energy cost of desalination, causes an unprecedented environmental impact. And all in a context of economic adversity caused by a pandemic in which farmers have been key in supplying the population. Andreu stressed that “they push us towards the abyss and over in a hydrological year in which there are no problems in the water reserve and, furthermore, not a drop of water is going to be for the farmers of Castilla-La Mancha. Everything is going to go to the sea or to Portugal ». The president of Asaja reiterated that “thanks to the water from the Tagus we have converted 140,000 hectares into a productive orchard and now they sell us that it will be maintained with desalinated water. From where, if they are going to take 150 hm3 from us when the ecological flow is increased and they only have 80 hm3 of desalinated water to replace it? ». Andreu accused the Government of “lying to us because they cannot sell that photovoltaic energy will solve the problem. A desalination plant can run for 8 hours with solar energy, but the rest requires conventional energy ».
Andreu emphasized that for Alicante the cut in the transfer is a condemnation, “because almost 40% of the value of agricultural production in the province is associated with the transfer and maintains 140,000 direct jobs and 100,000 indirect jobs.”
“The transfer cannot be limited without an alternative”
The President of the Generalitat, Ximo Puig, reiterates his commitment to farmers
The president of the Generalitat, Ximo Puig, reiterated yesterday, for his part, that the Generalitat is next to the irrigators. “The transfer can not be limited until there is no alternative,” stressed the president, who insisted that we should not seek water wars, “for that with us that do not count”, and yes negotiations to find solutions, but the irrigators of the Valencian Community must have quality water at a reasonable price forever ». Puig reiterated his commitment at the same time that Juan José Sellés, president of Uepal, asked him to stand before Madrid.
For her part, the delegate of the Consell in Alicante, Antonia Moreno, called on Carlos Mazón to abandon the “catwalk policy” and start offering work and solutions in favor of farmers. “While President Puig prepares allegations to the new rules of exploitation to defend the interests of farmers, Mazón does what he always did, what Zaplana did all his life. Appearance, facade and walkway ». Moreno stressed that the biggest cut in the transfer “occurred in 2013.” Moreno assured that investments are made in irrigation for a total value of 11.6 million euros. “These works directly affect a total area of 63,114 hectares and will save 4.3 hm3 of water.”
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.