A study shows the lack of infrastructure in water management in Spain and demands urgent measures

Water management has become a key element for the development of our country. On a social level, but also economically. In fact, according to the United Nations (UN), water is a vital component for progress, since it is necessary for the normal functioning of any socioeconomic sector. For this reason, FACSA, the company with 150 years of experience in managing the water cycle in Spain, has presented a study that analyzes the water management model in our country.

The work, which has been carried out together with the Public Affairs consultancy Red2Red for five months, arises from a clear context. Access to drinking water and sanitation are fundamental human rights, but the availability of water resources is finite, and depends on factors such as population growth, economic growth, the emergence of new uses, and the effects of climate change. An example is the drought that is currently affecting many Autonomous Communities.

To this end, the I FACSA Study on the water management model in Spain concludes that Our country must now incorporate a regulatory body for the urban cycle. At the same time, it must homogenize the tariff structure throughout the country and proposes the creation of a National Water Fund that facilitates infrastructure investment, in line with public-private collaboration. The objective is to adapt our model as soon as possible through adequate management of demand and supply that supports a hydrological planning based on solidarity between territories. Also due to the scarcity of infrastructure and the need to renew the current ones, improve their efficiency as well as clearly commit to innovation and digitalization.

The report starts from a clear situation. Spain has a reservoir capacity of 56,000 cubic hectometers, which means that at the moment (as of February 2024) the volume of impounded water barely reaches 50.13%. In this situation, the water stress (ratio between extracted fresh water and resource availability) reaches 42%, which makes our country is in third place in the EU ranking only behind Malta and Belgium.

On the contrary, Portugal is on the other side of the classification with a ratio of 12%. This is a paradigmatic case, since it is also facing a similar situation regarding drought. In fact, the Portuguese Government has just approved a contingency plan that will affect agriculture and domestic consumption in the Algarve region.

“Spain, despite being one of the countries with the greatest water stress in the EU, has a growing demand for water. Above all, due to the transformation of cultivation from dry land to irrigated land. For this reason, it is urgent to invest in infrastructure for the integral water cycle and renew the existing ones, making them more efficient, as is it to invest in those that allow increasing the supply of water through non-conventional uses, such as reuse or desalination. , and at the same time reduce the impact of the scarcity of freshwater as a conventional resource. Especially in a complex scenario where we already see the effects of climate change added to population increases and the increase in crop area. Without this progress, the water management system in Spain will be unsustainable,” said José Claramonte, general director of FACSA.

The report has also addressed the current water model through its different uses. The highest percentage of consumption corresponds to the agricultural sector (80%), followed by domestic, with 15.5%. In the urban environment, for its part, the study detects a decrease in water availability since 2005. While the treatment and reuse of wastewater has remained stable, with a considerable increase even until 2004, losses have decreased by urban supply, standing at 15.4% in 2020, public investment allocated to transportation, purification or water supply has been at levels 50% lower than those reflected in 2010.

The study has detected a possible reason, since it concludes that Spain has one of the lowest rates in the European Union, placing seventh from the bottom. A similar situation in terms of investment per inhabitant, only above Cyprus and Slovenia, while in network length, our country is only above countries such as Romania, Malta and Estonia. For this reason, the report points to the need to generate a single tariff structure, which is homogeneous for the entire national territory and which includes operating costs and the amortization of investments.

Along these lines, he also proposes the review of the current governance system so that it can evolve towards a regulatory framework that encourages citizen participation and contributes to more sustainable management of the resource, both from an environmental and economic point of view.

To this end, the report prepared by FACSA proposes a new water management model based on a decalogue with proposed solutions ranging from the creation of a National Water Pact and greater investment in infrastructure to the commitment to the circular water economy. and digitization. Furthermore, it focuses on a necessary asset for society in general, such as promoting awareness and sensitization about the correct use of water.