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Water Scarcity & Droughts In The European Union: The Special Case Of The Aquaduct Tajo-segura In Spain

Congress: 2015
AbstractAuthor: Dr. María Milanés Murcia Contact information: Dr. María Milanés Murcia, Sindicato Central de Regantes del Acueducto Tajo - Segura C/ Azucaque, 4 - 30001 Murcia, Spain Phone: +34 968221422 Fax: +34 968218670 Theme area: Sub-theme 17: Climate change, impacts and adaptation Special session 1: Aqueduct water risk assessment The European Union (EU) has established a Community framework for water protection and management. The Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000 establish a framework for Community action in the field of water policy. "Member States must identify and analyze European waters, on the basis of individual river basin and district. They shall then adopt management plans and programmes of measures adapted to each body of water" (Directive 2000/60/EC) This Framework-Directive has a number of objectives, such as preventing and reducing pollution, promoting sustainable water usage, environmental protection, improving aquatic ecosystems, and mitigating the effects of floods and droughts. Its ultimate objective is to achieve "good ecological and chemical status" (Directive 2000/60/EC) for all Community waters by 2015. The analysis of the implementation of the Directive and the policies developed to manage each river basin can bring light to effectively achieve the goals proposed by the Directive. In addition, the study of regional allocation mechanisms such as aqueducts and other instruments would provide strategies to mitigate climate change and the impacts of drought conditions. Significant changes in the quality and availability of water resources will be the consequences of climate change, which worsens the "existing stresses on water as changes in precipitation, combined with rising temperatures" COM(2012). The Commission emphasizes the need of a combination of adaptation measures in water policies to address water scarcity and drought COM(2012). Under the Water Framework Directive "member States shall collect and maintain information on the type and magnitude of the significant anthropogenic pressures to which the surface water bodies in each river basin district are liable to be subject, in particular estimation and identification of the impact of significant water flow regulation, including water transfer and diversion, on overall flow characteristics and water balances" COM(2012). At the regional level this assessment is essential to guarantee the correct allocation of water among users according to their uses especially in drought regions such as the southeast of Spain where the aqueduct Tajo-Segura provides water to one of the most arid region in the EU. In fact, "south-eastern Spain [the Murcia and Valencia regions and Eastern Andalucía] is experiencing an exceptional drought over the last 25 years" (European Commission 2014) . These current "extreme dry" conditions have occurred in other occasions since 1990, with the result of desertification because the soil water content was drastically depleted (European Commission 2014). The aqueduct Tajo-Segura represents a solution to these "extreme dry" conditions. This aqueduct provides drinking water to over 2,500,000 people, protects natural parks, and irrigate thousands of hectares since 1979 (SCRATS). This source of water contributes to guarantee the sustainable development (European Commission) of the region. However, the dramatically drought in the south-eastern Spain needs additional solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change in the context of the EU ensuring the sustainable development of the region. It is relevant to emphasize the concept of Sustainable Development as the European Commission adopted in the 2009 Review of EU SDS in July 2009 (European Commission, 2009). The European Council also confirmed that "Sustainable development remains a fundamental objective of the European Union under the Lisbon Treaty" (Council of European Union, 2009) in December 2009 (Council of European Union, 2009). The concept of Sustainable Development "stands for meeting the needs of present generations without jeopardizing the ability of futures generations to meet their own needs -- in other words, a better quality of life for everyone, now and for generations to come" (European Commission, Environment) The concept includes the integration of different sectors of the society from local to global action as well as social, economic and environmental aspects, which are all interconnected in the regional and global human progress (European Commission, Environment). Agriculture is essential for the Spanish economy and the progress of the country. Water transfer related to the agro-food industry contributes a total of 2,364 million euros to the GDP (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2013). In addition, agriculture promotes the development of industries connected to this sector such as transport, enginery, and phytosanitary (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2013). Therefore, agriculture activities related to the Aqueduct Tajo-Segura generate more than 100.000 employees (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2013). Moreover, the Aqueduct creates over 320,000 indirect employees contributing to the development of the country especially in economic crisis like the current situation in Spain (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2013). This development is established according to the sustainable development concept, where the Aqueduct Tajo-Segura ensures an efficient use of water through advanced technology saving water and improving the agriculture production. The aqueduct provides ecological values to the society protecting natural parks and improving the environment (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2013). An example of this environmental protection is the Law 13/1987, July 17th, enacted to provide water for environmental proposes through the aqueduct Tajo-Segura to the National Park Tablas de Daimiel. Since RDL 8/1995 this Natural Park receives water from the aqueduct Tajo-Segura maintaining its ecological value. As we can see the Aqueduct Tajo-Segura ensures the concept of Sustainable Development when protects the environment for present and future generations while promoting the development of the region. The Tajo-Segura Aqueduct Irrigators Association (JOSE MANUEL CLAVER VALDERAS, 2008) (Sindicato Central de Regantes Tajo-Segura) defends the interests of the whole collectivity Tajo-Segura Aqueduct´s water users (JOSE MANUEL CLAVER VALDERAS, 2008). This association is the key to ensure the sustainable development of the region and to achieve adaptation measures promoting resilience to climate change. Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - Mainstreaming sustainable development into EU policies: 2009 Review of the European Union Strategy for Sustainable Development. Available at: Council of European Union, 2009 Review of the EU Sustainable Development Strategy – President Report- 16818/09, Brussels 1 December 2009 Available at: Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000. Available at: European Commission, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. Report on the Review of the European Water Scarcity and Droughts Policy. COM(2012) 672 final, Brussels, 14.11.2012. European Commission, Environment. Available at: European Commission, Exceptional drought in south-eastern Spain, Joint Research Center News, 12 August 2014 Available at: Ley 13/1987, de 17 de julio, (B.O.E. de 18 de julio). JOSE MANUEL CLAVER VALDERAS, Aspectos Jurídicos de la Gestión y Explotación del Trasvase Tajo-Segura. Capítulo IV in La Ordenación Jurídica del Trasvase Tajo-Segura. Fundación Instituto Euromediterráneo del Agua Julio 2008 Sindicato de Regantes del Acueducto Tajo-Segura, Un Poco de Historia. Available at:
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