Ebro transfer cancellation sets new standard for water management worldwide

Following the incoming Spanish government's announcement to stop the Ebro river transfer, WWF calls on the new administration to review the other projects involved in the Spanish National Hydrological Plan (SNHP).

Apr 22nd, 2004

Madrid, Spain, April 22, 2004 -- Following the incoming Spanish government's announcement to stop the Ebro river transfer, WWF calls on the new administration to review the other projects involved in the Spanish National Hydrological Plan (SNHP).

The global conservation organization urges Spain to immediately stop harmful parts of the plan and substitute them with more economically and environmentally sound alternatives.

Over the last three years, WWF and other NGOs and civil society organizations have been campaigning against the Ebro transfer, the most destructive project of the SNHP. This project would have diverted Spain's longest river from the fertile northeast region of Spain to irrigate arid areas in the South, posing serious threats to people and nature in the region.

WWF welcomes incoming Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's announcement that "the Ebro transfer will be repealed and that a review of the SNHP may stop some specific infrastructures, replacing them with more efficient, cheaper, and less disputed projects."

"The Spanish government's decision is a big step for water conservation, and sets an example for the rest of the world," said Guido Schmidt, WWF-Spain's Freshwater Officer. "Governments must recognize that water is a finite resource, and that it is absolutely necessary to explore ways to use it more efficiently."

The Ebro transfer is only one part of the SNHP, which involves 22 transfer projects and 118 dams. We dont need to warn this it is fact. WWF and other NGO's are concerned that other parts of the SNHP will also contribute to serious environmental, social, and economic losses in the region. WWF urges the new Spanish government to explore more environmentally friendly and cheaper alternatives such as using water saving technologies, the recycling of wastewater, and the desalinization of seawater.

For example, a WWF study shows that in the city of Murcia, desalinated water would cost almost half as much as water provided by the Ebro transfer.

"The next step for the Spanish government is to scrutinize the other SNHP projects and replace harmful projects with sustainable ones," said Guido Schmidt.

WWF believes that there are over 40 critical projects in the SNHP that need to be stopped. The most harmful projects include the Júcar-Vinalopó transfer which would destroy the Albufera de Valencia wetland; the La Breña 2 dam and 11 other dams which threaten the endangered Iberian lynx population; some 5 dams in the Pyrenees which would seriously affect other parts of the Ebro Delta; and the Almonte dam in Extremadura and the Tagus-LaMancha transfer in Central Spain.

Source: WWF ( http://www.panda.org)

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