The Government and Catalonia agree on European funds to deal with droughts

The cliché that water causes wars has been denied once again.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
23 May 2023 Tuesday 05:22
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The Government and Catalonia agree on European funds to deal with droughts

The cliché that water causes wars has been denied once again. The reality is that water is a great source of covenants. The Minister of Climate Action, Teresa Jordà, has started the commitment of Teresa Ribera, Minister for Ecological Transition, that Catalonia obtain European funds, in this case in the form of "very advantageous" loans, to be able to make new investments in the field hydraulic works to deal with water deficits in the river basins of this community. The principle of agreement was reached yesterday in Madrid.

The Next Generation Recovery Funds were created to deal with the economic and social consequences of the pandemic, and incorporated various financial instruments, including repayable loans.

The Government already agreed three weeks ago to finance the construction of the new desalination plant in Blanes, declared a work of general interest, in the coming years, which will mean a state investment of 220 million euros. This infrastructure is considered one of the key works to improve the guarantee of supply in the Barcelona and Girona region.

The Generalitat made a positive assessment of the decision, but has continued to demand that the Administration finance new hydraulic infrastructures. The drought in the region of Barcelona and Girona affects six million people, who suffer restrictions in all uses except the domestic ones, the most essential.

The councilor asked the minister for "help" to finance the Foix (Cubelles) desalination plant and outlined the new pact. “We have agreed that it would be convenient to reach an agreement in the next few days so that the funds that come from Europe in the form of loans can be used to include more investments in the water cycle,” she indicated. These loans have "very good conditions and would be very good for us to speed up these actions as much as possible," she stressed.

From now on, a joint work period will be opened between the Ministry's General Directorate of Water and the Catalan Water Agency to specify this list of works that would be worthy of community loans. However, there is no determined amount yet.

After the Blanes desalination plant (220 million euros) and the Floix desalination plant in Cubelles (116 million euros), the major works pending are, among others, increasing production capacity and improving the quality of treatment at the Sant Joan Despí in the Llobregat (107 million); improvements to the Ter water purification plant in Cardedeu (89 million); the new surface water treatment plant in Besòs (83 million euros), perhaps in Barcelona; a new groundwater treatment plant for Besòs in Sant Adrià; or improvements in the reuse of reclaimed water in El Prat or Sant Feliu (26 million). All these works were approved in the water pact signed between the Government and the political parties.

In yesterday's meeting, the Part of the digitization of water in Catalonia was also discussed. The Generalitat has presented projects totaling more than 120 million euros. Jordà assumes that not all the works would have state financing, but he defended that they are "well-structured and territorialized" projects. The hope is that the projects that do not enter this Part can enter the new one that will be convened before the summer

Minister Jordà once again called for the modernization of the d'Urgell canal; Minister Ribera responded that this was a matter for the Ministry of Agriculture, although she declared herself in favor of this modernization and the optimization of these resources. The Generalitat is awaiting the response from Agriculture. The proposal of the Catalan Executive is that the State assume 40%.

On the other hand, the councilor has also requested that the flow carried by the two large lateral irrigation channels of the Ebro delta be considered the ecological flow of the river, as claimed by the Ebro Defense Platform, to protect not only the irrigation of the rice but the entire Delta.

In this way, if the Ebro Confederation imposes water cuts (as it has done now), it would be forced to respect the entire agricultural and ecological ecosystem of the delta. “The minister has told us yes!” says Jordà.