THE Junta have announced a new package of anti-drought measures worth €217m, as fears of looming water restrictions continue to mount.
The region’s Minister for Agriculture, Fishing, Water and Rural Development, Carmen Crespo, announced the latest decree in a press conference on Monday, January 29.
The announcement means that the Junta, led by Juanma Moreno, will have invested over €500m into initiatives designed to combat drought.
Andalucia is currently in the midst of its longest drought in 50 years, with fears rising that draconian water cuts are set to be imposed, akin to the infamous drought of 1995 which almost led to the evacuation of the city of Sevilla.
Reservoir levels across the region are continuing to diminish. According to the latest figures available (January 22), Malaga’s reserves are operating at just 15.75% of their capacity, whilst Almeria’s reservoirs are only 9.38% full.
However, this proportion is likely to have continued to fall over the past week due to low levels of precipitation and record January heat.
AEMET, the Spanish meteorological service, have also warned that rainfall is not expected until mid-February at the earliest, with Junta officials declaring that at least 30 days of rain are needed in order to prevent restrictions this summer.
The Junta hopes that the new package of support will add 81 cubic hectometres of water into the general supply for consumption.
A cubic hectometre is equal to one million cubic metres.
In the short term, €40m is set to be invested towards supporting local municipalities to fix leaky pipes, a key source of water loss.
The package also introduces investment into constructing new wells, building desalination plants and increasing the re-use of water.
Works are set to begin across Andalucia, including Axarquia, Guadalhorce, the Costa del Sol, the Campo de Gibraltar, Almería, Barbate, Beznar, Huelva and Cadiz.
New pipes will also be built in order to access the underground reserves of the lower Guadalhorce.
Improvements in pipelines and pumping will help the regions of Sevilla, Jaen and Cordoba, whilst an expansion of a desalination plant in Marbella is expected to increase supply by 20 hectometres.
Preparations are also underway in case the drought continues to worsen – plans are in place for ships to bring drinking water to the Costa del Sol if local reservoirs dry up.
A number of measures are also included aimed at easing pressures seen within the agriculture industry.
New developments in Jerez de la Frontera, Lower Guadalhorce, Antequera, Gualdahorce and Motril will increase supply for businesses by 39 cubic hectometres, with the agricultural sector set to benefit most.
Farmers across Andalucia are also expected to benefit from new, direct pipelines, tax exemptions designed to aid productivity, and a relaxing of rules that regulate the feeding of organic livestock.
The Junta hopes that this latest package of investment will help alleviate pressures brought on by the drought, with a stark warning that this set of measures “is reaching the limit” of the regional government’s powers.
Crespo also issued a rallying cry to the national government, urging the authorities to “get their act together” and support the region.
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