Thursday, September 23

“Replacing the transfer by desalinated water is less viable from the environmental point of view”

José Vicente Andreu, vice president of ASAJA, at the Alicante headquarters

José Vicente Andreu, vice president of ASAJA, at the Alicante headquarters

The Association of Young Farmers of Alicante (ASAJA) this year commemorates its 40th anniversary. Four decades at the service of farmers and ranchers in the province, defending their interests and focusing their efforts on making available all the tools, specialized technical services and professionals necessary to manage farms efficiently.

According José Vicente Andreu, vice president of ASAJA, «The correct combination between agriculture, water and transfer generates the perfect tandem between environment and habitability ».

What has been the role of the Tajo-Segura Transfer in this health crisis and what will it be in this new scenario?

When the state of alarm was decreed in March 2020, the irrigators of the Transfer were in the middle of the winter fruit and vegetable harvesting campaign. Fruits and vegetables that can only be grown in the Spanish Levante region due to its special climatic conditions, so favorable and unique for winter cultivation as they are free from the risk of frost. Thanks to that, the farmers of Alicante, Murcia and Almería we have been able to contribute our “grain of sand” to society at such a critical moment.

Translated into numbers, In Spain, agriculture consumes around 15,000 Hm3 of water for irrigation per year, of which, under normal conditions, 400 Hm3 correspond to the Tajo Segura Transfer, which is to say that the Tajo Segura transfer represents 2.66% of the irrigation water of the entire State. Well, the value of agricultural exports associated with the Transfer is 35%. In other words, with only 2.66% of the irrigation water we generate 35% of the export value.

Is the closure of the Transfer feasible and the operation of our agricultural production system with desalinated water?

The Tajo Segura Transfer is the most profitable hydraulic infrastructure that has been made in Spain in all history. Thanks to it, 147,000 Has have ceased to be a desert and have become an orchard and Spain is the world’s leading producer-exporter of fresh fruit and vegetables.

But the Tajo Segura Transfer not only contributes biodiversity, but at a global level it is contributing decisively to mitigate global warming. And it is that, the CO2 emissions into the atmosphere generated by each cubic meter of desalinated water, in addition to being four times higher than those generated by the transfer water, produces an estimated environmental damage of 7 cents, while pollution caused by lifting and transporting the transferred water is equivalent to 2.2 cents, so we have a highly efficient infrastructure.

This makes it clear that the roadmap followed by the Ministry for Ecological Transition (MITECO) to replace the Tajo-Segura water with desalinated, it is more unfeasible from an environmental point of view than economically.

What is the role of conserving the environment in agriculture?

In the industrialized world in which we live, the environment cannot be understood by itself, because human beings participate in it. Therefore, at least in our area, the correct The combination of agriculture, water and transfer creates the perfect tandem between environment and habitability.

Our irrigation systems are a proactive element, integrated into nature that, in addition to helping to alleviate excess CO2 in the atmosphere, act as a barrier against the advance of the desert, maintain a biological cycle … all with food as a final product. Therefore, this circular process shows that the Tajo-Segura is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.

Where do actions go to solve Spain’s water planning problems?

I think we have to leave the previous stage behind and definitively abandoning water as an electoral throwing weapon. The correct and responsible thing would be to face the water deficit from a comprehensive and technical point of view.

In Spain there is not a problem of lack of water, but of governance of the resource and the need for water infrastructures.

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