The Ribera hydrological plan unleashes the water war that will be an electoral key
Sociologists, demographic experts, climate experts, politicians and economists have been warning for years that the great migrations and wars that will occur, and are already occurring, mainly in Africa, will be due to water. Rather, to its scarcity. Now, in the Spain of 2022, mainly in its southeast quadrant, the most prone to desertification and the most hit by water scarcity, the decision of the central executive and Teresa Ribera, third vice president and minister for the Ecological Transition, of cut the Tajo-Segura transfer, has sparked the water war. Bloodless, but it threatens to mark the next regional and local elections on May 28.
The Council of Ministers approved this Tuesday hydrological plans for all Spanish basins, including the Hydrological Plan Project for the Segura and Tagus Hydrographic Demarcation, which represents a cut in the transfer from the Tagus to the Segurawhich establishes, and this is the great novelty, an ecological flow at the headwaters of the Tagus -it is true that it is ‘forced’ by the ruling of the Supreme Court and by EU directives-, which implies a reduction of the transferred water that the Government, in the worst scenario, figures between 70 and 110 cubic hectometres and that the irrigators place a fixed 78 cubic hectometres per year. A decision that, according to the Central Union of Irrigators of the Tajo-Segura Aqueduct (SCRATS) will suppose the death of 12,000 irrigated hectares in Alicante, Murcia and Almería and the unemployment for 15,000 farmers. Of course, the minister, while announcing the cut in the transfer, put billions of euros on the table to promote the use of desalinated water in Levante agriculture.
The decision of the Government of Pedro Sánchez has been received with “joy” by the Association of Riverside Municipalities of the Entrepeñas and Buendía Reservoirs, which He values it “very positively”Above all, that the Government and “especially Minister Ribera” have shown themselves to be firm “despite the media pressure from agribusiness.”
Likewise, the president of Castilla-La Mancha, Emiliano García-Page, one of the most critical socialist barons with Sánchez for his pacts with the independentistas, considers a great triumph, the “historic decision” of the Council of Ministers. “There have been many years, many occasions and many opportunities that have been lost or left by the wayside” and “the historical humiliation suffered by the Tagus, its lands, is beginning to change color and trend and its population”. A close associate of Page acknowledged this Friday to La Información that, “if it was not already clear before, with this decision the victory in the May 28 elections is closer”. And it is that in autonomous and local Spain everything is seen, today, in an electoral key.
And 370 kilometers from Toledo, in Valencia, too. To the point that from the Valencian PP they do not hesitate to ensure that “we have done the campaign and today we are closer to winning the regional elections than yesterday.” The big loser in this water war has undoubtedly been Ximo Puig. Curiously, and unlike García-Page, one of the most ‘loyal’ territorial barons to Pedro Sánchez. “The transfer from the Tagus to the Segura is inalienable because the Tagus is inalienable and we have the right,” he was quick to tell the president of the Valencian Generalitat upon learning of the cut, at the same time that he announced help to reduce the price of water by 10 cents coming from the desalination plants, with which the water for irrigators would stand at 0.24 cents per cubic meter, also adding the reduction announced by the central executive. Still far from the 18-19 cents paid by farmers from the east for the water from the transfer.
Ximo Puig has also announced that the legal services of the Generalitat will analyze the decision and will appeal the aspects that are “harmful” for the farmers of the Vega Baja de Alicante. Thus, from sectors of the Valencian PSOE itself it is considered that “with this decision and if it does not manage to reverse things, and there is very little time left between now and the elections, Ximo Puig is lost.” Such is the situation that this Friday the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, went to Valencia to meet with Puig himself, “temper bagpipes” and ensure that “farmers will be able to continue carrying out their tasks” thanks to “water flows and with the modernization of irrigation”. And despite this, the minister had an impact, “to the climate change that we are facing”, which has caused that since 1980 of the 20th century the country’s rainfall has been reduced by 12%, which may decrease by 15% in 2050.
Meanwhile, in Murcia, the president of the region, Fernando López Miras (PP), has already advanced that he will present a appeal to the Supreme Court to reverse the decision “arbitrary, political and sectarian” taken by the central government regarding the Tagus-Segura transfer. For López Miras, the approval of the Tagus and Segura Hydrological Plan is “the biggest political attack perpetrated to our community in the last decades”. Similarly, the Provincial Council of Alicante has also announced that it will appeal to the Supreme Court the decision of the central government on the transfer.
Andalusia, for its part, will file an appeal before the Supreme Court, as announced by the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development of the government chaired by Juan Manuel Moreno, Carmen Crespo, for whom “Teresa Ribera’s decision is knowingly unfair “”, “an outrage by the State that is unprecedented” and an “attack on water transfers and solidarity”.
The water war in the Spanish southeast It’s already a political war and more when the Entrepeñas and Buendía reservoirs, in the province of Guadalajara, in the upper Tagus, and from which the Tajo-Segura transfer is fed They are at 27% of their capacity.. Currently, there are 697 cubic hectometres dammed out of a total capacity of 2,518 between the two reservoirs.