Former environment chief in court for backing plans to extract 300 million litres of water per year from river
PLANS by a mineral water company to take ten litres of water per second from a local river are under investigation by a Granada court.
Aguas de Lanjarón, which is owned by French food giant Danone, claims it needs to extract a massive 311 million litres of water annually from the river Lanjaron for industrial purposes.
However, judges are looking into request after an official complaint by conservation group ACPES.
The court is also investigating why the regional government gave its green light to the plan despite the existence of negative impact studies.
ACPES fears the extraction – which has not yet gone ahead – would place a serious burden on the Lanjaron river, which has its source in the protected Sierra Nevada National Park.
Former Granada environment chief Gerardo Sánchez has appeared before the Granada court, accused of natural resources offences and environmental mismanagement.
Sanchez, who was part of the regional government committee that approved the company’s request in May last year, defended his decision claiming the extraction request was granted “only if the company complied with certain conditions, such as guaranteeing the maintenance of the area’s ecosystem,” he said.
Aguas de Lanjaron, one of Spain’s leading mineral water companies, claims it needs the water for “industrial use.”
This is believed to include water for the maintenance of the company’s gardens at its headquarters in Lanjarón and for the cleaning of its fleet of delivery vehicles.
The company also needs the extra water following a European Union directive last year forcing bottling plants to use glass packaging to cut down on the amount of plastic residue.
Danone is one of the largest companies operating in the Spanish mineral water market. Accounting for 27 per cent of total bottled water sales in Spain in 2005, the company made 292 million euros in sales of mineral water from Lanjaron and Fontvella.