Spain 'cannot guarantee water' for new homes

At least 300,000 new houses across Spain are being built without guaranteed water supply, the country's environment ministry has warned.

Water cannot be guaranteed across at least 129 municipalities, most of them in the South-Eastern provinces of Valencia and in the basin of the river Tajo in central Spain, according to the Environment Ministry's Hydrographic Services.

In an attempt to control urbanization in water-deprived zones, the ministry imposed an obligation on local government to report on water availability as part of the revised 2005 National Hydrological Plan.

Two years later, data collected from local "hydrographic confederations" finally reveals the extent of water shortages expected in planned developments - water cannot be guaranteed for at least 300,000 homes, including 100,000 in the river Jucar basin, another 100,000 in the Segura basin and the rest in the Tajo basin.

The general secretary of the Spanish Construction Association, Manuel Marti, denied the claims and argued that water waste, rather than water supply is an issue in Spain:

"We are not conscious of any problem or barrier to construction because of a lack of water - it is a basic resource that the government must guarantee.

"Spain does not lack water, although a lot is wasted and lost through leaking pipes. Just by charging the real price for water we would already have enough for new developments," he said.

The Government has said that agricultural water demand will get priority over any new settlements, however.

Droughts are common in the regions of Valencia, Murcia and the Tajo basin, where farmers and householders were bound by water use restrictions until last December after a practically rainless summer (see related story).

Goska Romanowicz



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