The reservoirs of the Ebro basin reach 70% of their capacity

The beneficial effects of the copious rainfall and snowfall of recent days are already being felt.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
10 March 2024 Sunday 22:26
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The reservoirs of the Ebro basin reach 70% of their capacity

The beneficial effects of the copious rainfall and snowfall of recent days are already being felt. As reported this Monday by the Ebro Hydrographic Confederation (CHE), the reservoirs in the Ebro basin have grown by one point and are already at 70% of their total capacity (5,471 cubic hectometers of the 7,800 they can hold). A percentage ten points higher than that registered a year ago and which is already close to the 72% that the basin has averaged in the last five years (2019-2023).

After two years of severe restrictions, these good data will allow thousands of farmers in the basin to start the irrigation campaign without restrictions. This is the case of Alto Aragón, the largest Spanish irrigation system with its 130,000 hectares. There, the reservoirs are overflowing (Mediano at 93%, El Grado at 96% and La Sotonera at 95%), allowing its community of irrigators to begin their annual campaign this Monday with “optimism.”

“Fortunately, it will be different from the two previous campaigns, in which we started with quotas from the beginning,” explained its president, José Antonio Pradas, before the regional media. “We get our supplies from the Gállego and Cinca basins, and now we are above 92% in both,” he added.

Irrigators also do not hide their satisfaction with the abundant snowfalls in recent weeks, which have allowed them to turn around the prospects they had just a few weeks ago. Even so, they are cautious because this snow has fallen late, so they will be attentive to the evolution of the weather to see if the thaw is progressive or an increase in rain and temperatures accelerates the loss of existing reserves.

“Everything will depend on the weather conditions over the next few months. “If the snow doesn’t settle properly, a lot of water would be wasted that we wouldn’t be able to store.” In his opinion, it would be “very regrettable” to have to impose quotas or limitations on irrigators in the middle of the season when the starting conditions are “so positive”, which is why he insisted on the need to undertake the regulation works that allow “ solve storage problems and deal with unexpected events.”

The forecast is also optimistic in the Bardenas Canal (90,000 hectares, 80% in Aragón and the rest in Navarra), where the campaign could begin this week. Its only reservoir, Yesa, is 90% full and is being drained, through the canal and the river, to leave a buffer against a new storm.

The situation is different in the Aragón and Catalunya Canal (105,000 hectares between the two), where prospects are good in the Ésera but uncertain in the Noguera-Ribagorzana irrigable area. The campaign began a week ago with free order, supplying water from the first river, to take advantage of the abundant flow entering the Barasona (98%) and San Salvador (98%) reservoirs. However, the big pieces of regulation are in the Noguera-Ribagorzana, where the overall volume only reaches 37%, with Canelles, the largest reservoir in the Pyrenees (679 cubic hectometers), at 23%.

Precisely today, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, through the State Commercial Society of Agrarian Infrastructures (SEIASA), has formalized two agreements in Lleida to allocate a total of 45 million euros to carry out modernization works that allow water savings. and energy costs in irrigation in Huesca and Lleida.

With these actions -financed with funds from the Recovery Plan of the Government of Spain- it is planned to save water, increase water efficiency and reduce energy costs in 106,730 hectares, measures that will benefit almost 12,0000 irrigators in the Canal communities. of Pinyana and the Aragón and Catalunya Canal.