The Spanish government has recently approved a hydrological plan which negatively affects the final part of Ebre river, due to the fact that it will cause a dramatic decrease of its flow. Hydrological plans are the legal figures which should guarantee public access to water for social and economic development, and at the same time, they should guarantee the environmental sustainability. However, this hydrological plan (Pla Hidrològic de la Conca de l’Ebre) is a danger for this important river, as it decreases its ecological flow and tries to implement a distribution model for irrigation based on water speculation. This plan also breaches the EU Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC.
With this plan, the last part of the river will receive an average volume about 3000hm3; while the previous regulation, lapsed in 2010, was establishing a larger river flow between 5880hm3 and 9900hm3. Thus, with this new hydrological plan, during the dry months, the river will only have a flow of about 70, 60 o 40 m3/s.
One of the main problems of this new regulation is that a lot of water that was meant to go down to the delta, will be retained at the high part of the river, because of the new 445000 irrigation hectares in the basin. Furthermore, the plan includes the construction of 44 dams, which if added to the 32 existing ones, will mean that there will be 76 dams, which will accelerate the delta degradation. This is due to the fact that dams impede the pass of sediments that help to the maintenance of the delta, and protect it from sea invasion.
This regulation, ratified by the CHE, and approved by the council of ministers the 8th of January 2016, threatens the region of Terres de l’Ebre (in southern Catalonia). The river and the delta are the main natural resource of the region, and they actually are classified as a Natural reserve of the biosphere by the UNESCO since 2014. This area is also considered a European biodiversity hotspot protected under the Habitats Directive 92/43/ECC. At the same time, it’s a key factor for development of the territory, as well as an identity sign of the zone.
The reduction of the flow and the construction of the new dams will add pressure on the other difficulties already accumulated to the Delta in order to obtain sediments, which will lead to an acceleration of the river salinization and the regression of delta plan by the sea action.
Thus, taking into account that:
A. The reduction of the flow and the construction of the new dams will join the other difficulties already accumulated to the Delta in order to obtain sediments, which will lead to an acceleration of the river salinization and the regression of delta plan by the sea action. As well as threating the principles of the EU Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC.
B. Ebre’s delta is the second biggest delta of the Mediterranean Sea, and the biggest wetland of the Catalan Countries, as well as it is protected by Natura 2000, a network of core breeding and resting sites for rare and threatened species, and some rare natural habitat types.
C. Ebre’s delta is considered a European biodiversity hotspot protected under the Habitats Directive 92/43/ECC. More than 330 bird species can be found in the Delta, because it is used as an overwintering site during migrations.
D. It is crucial for human activity as the 75% of its surface is used for rice cultivation, and it has a population of 50.000 citizens, as well as it is a strategic tourist destination for the region’s economy.
The European Free Alliance Youth:
1. Rejects the Hydrological plant of Ebre basin (“Pla Hidrològic de la Conca de l’Ebre”) approved the 8th of January by the provisional Spanish government.
2. Supports the movements in defense of the Ebre River, as well as the campaign in support of the arrival of sediments to the delta.
3. Denounces the actuation of the Spanish government, as well as the little concern of the European institutions while violating the minimum “measures” in order to guarantee the security of the river, the continuity of this natural space, and the survival of its ecosystems.
4. Demands the members of the European Parliament of EFA to continue working in order to stop the implementation of this hydrological plan, and in order to guarantee the security of the delta and ensure the necessary flow of the river.