Spain invests nearly 23 billion euros in water management
The Spanish government will invest nearly 23 billion euros to comply with European Water Directives. The Council of Ministers approved hidrological plans the 24th of January. The new River Basin Management Plans (RBMP’s) that will apply up to and including 2027. This is the formal deadline to comply with the European Water Framework Directive (WFD).
In Spain only 56% of the lakes, rivers, estuaries and coastal waters comply with a minimum ‘good’ or ‘high’ ecological status in 2010-2015. The largest investment ever in Spanish water management is necessary to comply with various European water laws, like the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive (UWWTD), the Drinking Water Directive (DWD) and the WFD.
Brussels does not intend to postpone the deadline for achieving the WFD targets. “The Water Framework Directive is meeting its objectives and no legislative changes are planned to extend the existing deadlines,” stated an official spokesperson for the European Commission to Water News Europe in 2022. Over the years the European Commission has also launched several infringement cases to address the lack of waste water collection and treatment in a high number of locations in Spain.
Now the Spanish Council of Ministers has approved the third cycle of Planes Hidrológicos. In a document that defines the lines of action to manage water resources in Spain from now until 2027. With the approval of these plans, a long process to modernize hydrological planning ends. The plans respond to the challenges of climate change, such as extreme events and droughts and floods
Impressive package of measures
More than 6,500 measures are established with an investment of nearly 23 billion euros. Among these investments is more than € 6,6 billion allocated to improve sanitation and purification; more than € 2,2 billion to improve water supplies; more than € 5 billion to be invested in irrigation infrastructure; more than € 2 billion for flood risk management; nearly € 1,3 billion for desalination and water reuse installations and almost € 1,3 billion for the restoration and conservation of water in the public domain.
Differences with the previous RBMP’s
Unlike the first and second cycle of RBMP’s the new plans determine minimum and maximum flows for all Spain’s water, to ensure the protection of water ecosystems and the territory. It is estimated that the flows of Spanish rivers have been reduced by 12% since 1980. In order to adapt to a reality in which climate change will reduce the availability of water, the text proposes a change in the trend in the use of resources. Specifically, the allocations for the different uses are reduced from the 28,000 hm3/year indicated in the previous planning to 26,800 hm3/year, a measure aimed at guaranteeing equitable access to water for all citizens. At the same time, in order to diversify the sources of obtaining the resource, desalination is given a greater role, so that supply is guaranteed and environmental demands and requirements are balanced.
Reduce environmental pressures
The government will also take measures to reduce environmental pressures, acting on the activities that generate them. The plans refer to the Royal Decree of January 2022 on the protection of water against diffuse pollution caused by agricultural nitrates. In addition, measures are contemplated to fight against emerging pollutants such as microplastics or antibiotics.