BATTLE OF THE EBRO RIVER HOTS UP

Experts all over the world are warning that the next major war will be caused by a shortage of water but the Spanish are already waging their own “water war”. Last Friday, the Cabinet approved plans to pipe water from Tarragona to Barcelona, which the government continues to insist is not a “trasvase” or transfer. The idea of such a transfer was proposed by the José María Aznar government but the Socialists, then in opposition, blew the idea out of the water, so to speak. During the election campaign they also opposed any such transfer, and they are now having to describe the construction of a new 60km pipe to take drinking water from Tarragona to Barcelona as “a water conduit”. Deputy Prime Minister Teresa Fernández de la Vega told a press conference after the Cabinet meeting that the new measure was “temporary and sustainable”. She said it was the best solution to the problem as “it did not involve taking an extra drop of water from the Ebro river”, and that it would be used until a new desalination plant for Catalonia came online. She said it would be “unforgivable and irresponsible” not to send water to Barcelona where emergency water-saving measures are already in place. She said that without the water, taps in the city could run dry in October. The new plan has not been welcomed by either Valencia or Murcia, where water is also short. The PP-controlled regional governments there have joined forces to demand their own new water transfer pipe be laid from the Ebro river. Doubts have also been raised by the Socialist region of Aragón, which considers the measure goes against the Regional Statutes. Farmers and people living along the 928 kilometre-long Ebro river have opposed the idea since it was first proposed. A lot of water is going to flow under this bridge before a solution is found that pleases everybody.

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