Spain runs out of water: 27 million inhabitants are at risk of suffering scarcity in 2050

The glass of water in Spain is half empty. Water scarcity enhanced by climate change, the structural investment deficit in the sector and lack of adaptation t

Spain runs out of water: 27 million inhabitants are at risk of suffering scarcity in 2050

The glass of water in Spain is half empty. Water scarcity enhanced by climate change, the structural investment deficit in the sector and lack of adaptation to European regulations, represent a challenge for companies and public administrations. To discuss these three axes, editorial unit at November, in collaboration with Seopan and PWC, an event that brought together all agents of the sector under the slogan "reality and future of the water sector in Spain".

Personalities of the world of politics, such as Ana Marczark, Police Officer of the General Directorate of Environment of the European Commission (EC) or Hugo Morán Fernández, current Secretary of State for the Environment, attended the appointment. As well as experts and entrepreneurs of the sector such as Gonzalo Delacámara, EC Water Policy Advisor, ECB and UN, Julián Núñez President of Seopan, and Santiago Otero, PWC Strategy Partner.

All speakers echoed an incontestable evidence: climate change is compromising water resources from the peninsula and any step that in this field institutions and social agents must be aimed at reversing this trend and ensuring the sustainability of the Spanish water system. This mandate is emergency as long as, as the Secretary of State for the Environment, "there will be no progress if there is no sustainability."

The starting point is as follows: Spain is the third country in Europe with greater water stress, with 70% of its territory at risk of desertification and 27 million Spaniards in danger of suffering water shortages by 2050. This trend could be seen Aggravated, according to Seopan's president, Julián Núñez, for the inefficiency of the obsolete sewer infrastructures and supplies networks of our country, which are responsible for the loss of 16 liters of water of each supplied.

A "uncertain" future that would have a direct impact on the economic and social development of Spain, underpinned Núñez. To combat it, the speakers remembered the Government some of the strategies that have already been prescribed. Among them, the President of Seopan highlighted the 2030 Agenda as a global strategy to fight climate change. And especially, the ninth point of sustainable development objectives, whose objective is to promote sustainable water infrastructures that reduce untreated wastewater by 50%. A new "more restrictive" limit than the previous one, which, remember Núñez, "We have been breaking up".

This was confirmed by Ana Marczark, Police Officer of the General Directorate of Environment of the European Commission (EC) in whose exposure he pointed out that Spain flakes in the treatment of wastewater with elimination of nitrogen or phosphorus, which exceeds 3.92 million tons The provisions of European regulations and which has led the country to accumulate more than 50 million euros in sanctions related to wastewater management.

For the speakers, this inefficiency of the system has to do with the lack of public and private investment in the sector. The finger that points to the public administration affects the reduction of tenders in hydraulic works, which Núñez has located in "37% less than before the pandemic". Also in the "irrelevant" presence of water in the mechanisms of recovery and resilience - 3.6% of the total subsidies consigned for the next two years - or in "54% less financing in the water projects" of the PGE That are discovered if the investment contributed by the Next Generation funds is derased.

With regard to private investment, the speakers have coincided in the need to encourage the participation of companies in the sector. This investor deficit has also been detected by Brussels. "Spain will need to invest around 25 million between 2020 and 2030 in waste water purification and drinking water to ensure and maintain compliance with the Directive," said Marczark. An objective that represents 49% more of the current investment in this area.

In addition, proposals were discussed to end the "absurd legislative barriers" that "slow down the competitiveness of Spain", as the unintexing law, according to which "we are offering private investors a profitability 3 times lower than what the Global market, "says Núñez. To guide these investments, the speakers suggested using the Hydrological Plan 2022-2026 as a roadmap, given that it describes hydrological and long-distance strategies, with "quantifiable" and "well identified" actions.

Hugo Morán, Secretary of State for the Environment, highlighted the importance of hydrological planning as an axis on which to sow, a posteriori, the planning of other sectors. Planning, investment and compliance with the regulations would be incomplete if not assumed the need to reduce water allocations in the 12 hydrological plans of the different territorial demarcations to adapt to the context imposed by climate change and by the EC. The announced cutout would be about 1,700 cubic hectometres per year, which will mean "a trend rotation perfectly aligned with the requirements that the Commission (European) brand". A kind of hydrological austerity whose challenges can only be faced with the "positive support and consensus" of all the actors involved in the sector.

Date Of Update: 08 December 2021, 21:13

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