SPAIN: Mobile desalination plants to calm Mallorcan water crisis

Negotiations between the Balearic Islands' government and municipal leaders in Mallorca have resulted in an emergency agreement to deal with the island's water shortage. Three mobile desalination plants are being constructed but are unlikely to be in operation before the end of the summer.


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“We have been assured that there will be no water shortages in any hotels this season,” a Balearic Islands’ tourist officer told edie.
The mobile desalination plants are being built in Palma, Andratx and Calvia, and politicians have promised that taxes will not be raised to pay for them. A large, stationery desalination plant has been in operation in the Bay of Palma for a year now, but low rainfall last winter means that even the current supplies of desalinated water are not enough.
“The mobile plants will be able to be moved very quickly and easily, depending on need,” says the tourist spokesperson.
A report published by the Catalan language daily Diari de Balears says that the Calvia plant may pose problems – with sites identified either suffering from low water capacity or insufficient access to electricity.
The Palma mobile plant is expected to begin supplying desalinated water in 45 days, but Calvia will take much longer to come online.
Meanwhile, hotels are promising that guests will not suffer from water shortages. Reports in some newspapers in England that hotels are planning to use saltwater in showers are completely unfounded, says the tourist spokesperson: “I don’t know where this news is coming from. How would they pipe in water from the sea? It would cost them so much money.”
A few hotels in Mallorca and Ibiza have installed grey water recycling systems which use recycled water for toilet flushing as well as watering gardens and golf courses. According to Martin Llobera, of the Balearic Government’s department of environment, grey water recycling by hotels is unusual. “Although in the near future I expect a certain increase,” Llobera told edie. “There is, for the time being, no direct [financial] support for this.”
Llobera promotes the adoption of environmental management systems (EMS) within the tourist industry. “We have a LIFE-Environment project and presently we have four registered sites and about 40 more on the way,” says Llobera.
Meanwhile, the Balearic Islands’ government – a Green-Socialist coalition elected a year ago – retains its plan to introduce Europe’s first eco-tax. The sliding-scale tax would be paid by all campers, hotel guests and those hiring holiday apartments from the beginning of next year, and some of the money raised would be used to create and maintain national parks.
The eco-tax has been criticised by the Islands’ hotel industry.

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