ORIHUELA council will apply for UNESCO World Heritage status for its traditional irrigation system in the Las Norias district.

Orihuela mayor Pepe Vegara announced the news during a visit to review refurbishment work on the Moquita and Pando waterwheels which date back to the 13th and 14th centuries and have seen many restorations over the centuries.

Current renovation work started back in 2017.

Pepe Vegara said: “We must value everything that makes up our traditional irrigation network because it is an ancient system that, even after many hundreds of years, still provides us with the most efficient use of water.”

He called the waterwheels ‘a unique work in Spain that we have to protect and to make it an area that tourists are aware of’, because ‘this environment is part of our culture, our history and our DNA’.

Pedro Valero, president of the ‘Friends of the Twin Wheels’ association said: “We are lucky to still have them due to the efforts of farmers over hundreds of years and they are the only example of double waterwheels left in Spain.”

“We must maintain and celebrate this jewel of the millenary irrigation of Orihuela,” he added.

Future plans include building a visitors centre by the waterwheels and creating new routes for bikers and walkers to enjoy.

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