"Let them water us with regenerated water"

Hers is one of the accredited voices of Catalan horticulture.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
10 March 2024 Sunday 11:29
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"Let them water us with regenerated water"

Hers is one of the accredited voices of Catalan horticulture. Mercè Martínez, president of the Catalan Flower and Ornamental Plant Market in Vilassar de Mar (Maresme), leads Indústria Verda, the organization that brings together all the Catalan associations and guilds involved from the beginning with plants, seeds, production, marketing, up to auxiliary elements and services related to the green sector. At the moment there are 17 entities representing 4,800 companies and more than 1,600 commercial establishments, which employ more than 82,000 workers and generate an annual business volume of 5,000 million euros.

Despite the magnitude of the sector represented, Martínez regrets that the Generalitat does not meet its demands. He highlights the inconsistencies of an Administration that he criticizes for "instead of making recommendations, it threatens and sanctions us" and, instead, "disobeys" the requests. They estimate that the sector could record losses of more than 8,000 million if they are forced to stop planting. "It will take us a year to sell the plant" and, if they don't let them continue with the activity, "the rest of Europe will invade us".

The Flower Market, by Mercè Martínez, is a simile with the comics of Asterix and Obelix. "We are Gaul, the only market in southern Europe, we are resilient", he says, but if they are not allowed the magic potion of regenerated water, "they will eliminate us".

They demand such basic measures as "being able to use regenerated water" which is now forbidden to them. An incongruity, they say, "when they don't let us water with reclaimed water and, instead, they clean the streets". These coercive measures "can put an end to 80% of the sector".

It highlights the great ignorance of an area that the administration "until recently forced to reduce 80% of water consumption" when it is known that nurseries "no longer use tap water", but produce regenerated water " which we cannot use, even if it is bought”. Martínez calculates that a nursery "has water left over with 200 liters of consumption", since it is a highly technical sector with great advances in drip irrigation, humidity probes or rainwater collection, among other technical devices.

"We have commercialization committed", but due to the drought crisis, "municipalities have started to terminate contracts" and the plants remain in the nursery. The horticulturists fear that spring will arrive, "the strongest time of the year, and this has no chance of being fixed". It is necessary, they insist, "that they let us irrigate" with the same water with which they irrigate the streets, "why not the plants?", when, in addition, irrigation "feeds the subsoil and groundwater."

In the industrial sector, which consumes the most water of all, the Generalitat imposes restrictions of up to 25%. "For fiscal purposes, we are considered industries, "but they reduced our consumption by 80%", despite the fact that recently the percentage has been limited to 50%. However, they consider these administration practices to be "discrimination". "They are criminalizing the sector, they need to sell a positive image" and not only of restriction and crisis.

"We can maintain the climate shelters if they let us supply regenerated water". Hurting the plant and flower sector has a big impact on the environment: "If we lose flowers, we will also lose bees and pollination".

They consider that the Catalan Administration "lacks empathy, they do not make country policies, they only limit themselves to chair politics", criticizes Mercè Martínez, who does not understand how the sector is penalized as an industrial fabric, as is also done with the 'agriculture "Can anyone imagine a city without urban greenery?", he asks.

The green in municipalities and gardens "is a positive climate action" which in the current drought situation "is not given enough importance", despite the benefits that the maintenance of green spaces has in the conservation of the environment, biodiversity and physical and mental health. For all this they claim what they define as "survival irrigation" of public and private green spaces, which, "given the global emergency situation, must be enhanced and not reduced".

They deplore that a sector, the green industry, which in the last 30 years has promoted the construction of gardens with sustainability criteria, the production of plants adapted to the climatic conditions of low water requirements and the optimization of production processes, investing in systems of water saving, "it can be allowed to continue to suffer the application of general measures that reverse the economic viability" of companies and workers.

They understand that the current application of the drought plan "disables the use of intermediate systems" to the extent that, in the case of those who have so far invested in saving resources, regeneration and water accumulation and capture, "this is not considered in the useful cycle and reused for sectoral uses, so that they also "promote the desertification of the humanized environment".

The sector calls on the Administration to "reverse this incoherent situation" which prevents those who have their own resources from being able to disconnect from the public network and "be self-sufficient", since the use of these resources is prohibited.

"We're not asking for more water, we're asking to be able to optimize the resources we have", and that's why they're calling for a water efficiency certification for green spaces. A measure applicable in the medium term, "but very necessary for future crises".


President of the Flower Market