In 2015 it came into operation for the first time, with the capacity to produce 18 hm3 per year, but it was not until 2021 when it is producing a continuous flow … although for the moment it is scarce, since it is at 35% of its capacity. And is that the lack of customers due to the high price of desalinated water and because of the costs that have to be amortized, they make the infrastructure work at idle.
This work was included within the water star project of the then Minister of the Environment with Zapatero Cristina Narbona, which sought to stop the overexploitation of the Upper and Middle Vinalopó aquifers from which part of l’Alacantí drinks, and compensate for the continuous cuts – and those to come – from the Tajo-Segura transfer, since the central government insists on desalination as the solution for the province.
At the moment only Alicante receives a constant flow for the area of Playa de San Juan and Cabo de las Huertas, and Sant Joan. In these two cases, the impact of the costs of the desalination plant It has been agreed for a transitional period of 5 years, in which the costs of the new supply source are progressively passed on, as explained by Aguas Municipalizadas de Alicante (Amaem).
Last month 560,000 m3 were served, of which approximately 40% were for Sant Joan and the remaining 60% for the capital, according to data provided by the state company Acuamed. The works that should allow the arrival of desalinated water to Mutxamel, also involved in a judicial investigation for irregularities in the award of works, were paralyzed five years ago, so it cannot receive water for the moment despite the fact that it signed an agreement in 2006.
For its part, El Campello refuses to receive water despite the fact that it can technically already be supplied, and this situation has generated a serious crisis in the tripartite formed by PP, Cs and Vox. The oranges reject the arrival of these flows by the increase that will mean in the invoice -a rise of 6.9% in the first six months and another 6.9% in the second semester- despite the agreement signed by the City Council in 2006, similar to that of Mutxamel. But in any case, the bill will go up even if the water does not arrive, because in June Acuamed will begin to affect citizens the 14 million that correspond to El Campello for the construction of the plant.
The City Council agreed in 2006 to pay a part of the cost of the desalination plant. Of course, it has not yet been calculated what the beginning of the amortization will mean in this month’s receipt, after rejecting the plenary session to modify the agreement for a more staggered rise, extending the amortization period of the 14 million from 25 to 40 years .
The PP, always critical of the desalination plants, has become, together with Vox, the only defender of the arrival of this flow to El Campello, thus complying with the commitment approved in 2006 by popular and PSOE, and guaranteeing the supply of water in the next decades. But precisely the socialists from Campeche joined Cs, EU, Red and Podemos to overturn the modification of the agreement and the update of rates, alleging lack of information and denouncing the rush of the executive on this issue, thus blocking the arrival of desalinated water, but not the payment of construction costs for the aforementioned agreement.
Overexploitation of aquifers
The PP does not understand this position of the socialists, since the PSOE backed the agreement in 2006 and it is the Ministry for the Ecological Transition, in socialist hands, who urges the arrival of desalinated water. In addition, the Júcar Hydrographic Confederation (CHJ), also led by the PSOE, has already requested El Campello twice to stop supplying from the Vinalopó wells and connect to the desalination plant, to thus allow the recovery of aquifers, as required by the EU, which is why the municipality seems to be working towards the opening of a file and possible sanctions.
For its part, Sant Joan is already receiving desalinated flow. And San Vicente has stated that in his day he refused to connect to the desalination plant because he was not interested, so he has no obligation and will not be a client of the Mutxamel plant. What you will do is increase the supply of Tajo-Segura transfer to compensate for the closure of the Vinalopó wells, which will increase the bill by 50 cents per month. Similarly, Benidorm intends to request 500,000 m3 per year, although it has not yet formalized this request. And it must be remembered that the Mutxamel plant receives the official name of “Marina Baixa desalination plant”, since one of its objectives is to guarantee the supply of Benidorm in case of need.
Acuamed expects that over time the consumption by the two existing users will increase and with the incorporation of new ones. But for the moment, an infrastructure that had to serve 200,000 people in Alicante, Mutxamel, El Campello, San Vicente and Sant Joan, and in case of emergency in Benidorm, is limited for the moment to a small part. And while, the EU tightens.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.