Madrid decides water row for first time in decade

1st July 2005, Comments 0 comments

1 July 2005, MADRID — A furious political row over the diversion of water from two of Spain's biggest rivers has erupted as it struggled to deal with its drought crisis.

1 July 2005

MADRID — A furious political row over the diversion of water from two of Spain's biggest rivers has erupted as it struggled to deal with its drought crisis.

The national government in Madrid was forced to intervene for the first time in ten years to decide how much water would be diverted from the River Tajo in Castilla La Mancha province to the River Segura in Murcia, south-east Spain.

The row erupted as Spain struggled to come to terms with the worst drought 60 years.

Farmers in some areas have threatened to leave the land as losses this year mounted to EUR 2.6 million, while emergency restrictions have been imposed on water supplies in half the country.

Rainfall this year was 37 percent less than the average figure since 1930 and forecasters are not predicting any improvement until at least the autumn.

Amid this background, the regional government of Castilla La Mancha even hired a "spy helicopter" to make a "secret" film of water reserves in Murcia in order to show that the provincial government there was overestimating the lack of water in order to get more supplies than they needed.

Politicians in the province famous for being home to Cervantes' creation Don Quixote claimed Murcia had 47 percent more water than it declared in 2003 — a fact denied by their counterparts in Murcia.

The River Segura is said to be the driest place in Spain, with reserves down to just 17 percent of what they should be at this stage during the year.

Deputy prime minister Maria Teresa Fernández de la Vega decided yesterday to divert 82 cubic hectometres of water from the River Tajo to the River Segura, 39hcm for human use, 43 for agriculture.

But what has infuriated politicians, economists, farmers alike in Castilla La Mancha is more water will be given for agricultural needs, than human supply. 

Though domestic supplies have not yet been hit, Spaniards are being urged by the government to follow basic guidelines to save water, including  using a shower not a bath, turning off taps, only watering plants at night, and only using a washing machine when it is completely full.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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