Spain approves water plan for Catalonia

16th April 2008, Comments 0 comments

The drought-stricken region will be guaranteed drinking water for this summer.

16 April 2008

MADRID - The Spanish government on Wednesday drew mixed reactions to its plans to divert water from the river Ebro to the Barcelona region to guarantee drinking water for the drought-stricken Catalan capital for the summer.

The government and Catalonia on Tuesday approved a plan to pump 50 cubic hectometres of water from the Tarragona region to the Barcelona area.

The water will be taken from supplies that go to waste in inefficient irrigation systems, which will be modernised, environment minister Elena Espinosa said.

The water will be transported to Barcelona through a 60-kilometre piping system that will cost more than EUR 170 million.

The system can be used until a new desalination plant will help to ensure water supplies in Catalonia within a year's time.

Catalonia, which is suffering from its worst drought in 60 years, also intends to bring water in tanker ships from elsewhere in Spain, as well as from southern France.

The Ebro plan has run into opposition in the eastern Valencia and Murcia regions, which feel snubbed, because Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's government stopped a much bigger plan of diverting water from the Ebro to the regions in 2004.

The two regions may call demonstrations against the government's water policy, Murcian regional Premier Ramon Luis Valcarcel said Wednesday.

The Ebro plan is also disliked by the region of Aragon, which wants a say over the use of water from the river which flows through it.

Several editorials accused the government of playing with words by refusing to call the water plan a "trasvase" (diversion), a word evocative of large-scale water diversion projects which opponents blast as expensive and harmful for the environment.

The control of water resources is a constant battle in Spain, where the Catalan regional government was at odds with the Zapatero government over its plans to divert water from the Segre, a tributary of the Ebro. The new Ebro plan resolved the conflict.

[dpa / Expatica]

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