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The water crisis

Spain needs new management to cope with droughts

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The water crisis

The drought that plagues us since January 2016 has reignited alarms on vulnerability of our country in one of essential resources, water supply. Between 2014 and 2016 it already rained 6% less than average. This year, fall in rainfall by 24% to October and an abnormally dry November can lead to a drought as serious or more severe than that between 1991 and 1995. The measures taken n allow greater efficiency in water consumption, but y are totally insufficient to address growing distance between available flows and needs to be addressed.

Previous Editorials

Coping with drought (15/11/2017)

Spain has always been a dry country and economic development achieved has been possible in part thanks to network of swamps and infrastructures of transhipment built. But that model is exhausted and does not allow us to face serious water crisis to which we are doomed, complicated by effects of climate change. The available flows are already 20% lower than those of 30 years ago and experts foresee that y continue to decrease by combination of two factors: decrease of precipitations and a greater evaporation by increase of temperatures. It is estimated that average temperature has increased in last three decades 0.9 degrees. The pattern will probably be aggravated in next few years.

Meanwhile, demand for water is increasing in both agriculture and industry and domestic consumption. Irrigated land, for example, has increased 21% between 1998 (3.3 million hectares) and 2016 (4,050,000). It is urgent, refore, to establish a plan that will allow us to face crisis that is looming with savings and investment measures in desalination plants. Without undermining impact of attention campaigns on domestic use, measures should focus on agricultural sector, which will stop 85% of water consumed.

The problem is mainly found in semi-intensive crops (cotton, beet) and extensive (cereals, maize), which are irrigated by gravity. It is necessary to promote new water management in se crops with introduction of efficient irrigation systems and tariff-saving measures. One measure to study is that rate is not established according to irrigated surface, but consumption. The objective is to achieve efficiency that has already been achieved in intensive crops, which consume 30% of water and contribute 70% of agricultural value added.

Anor major improvement front is reuse of urban wastewater. In Spain we barely reuse 15%, when in also dry places like California and Israel reuse 70%. Finally, we must make necessity virtue and take advantage of solar and marine potential to increase obtaining of water by desalination. Desalination water is more expensive because se facilities require a lot of energy, but price can decrease if you take advantage of production of renewable sources in hours of lower consumption. The water crisis is one of biggest challenges we face. It's urgent to face him.

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