Spanish government opens water debate

White paper takes strategic look at water resources management, regional transfers

The Spanish government set out the terms of a national debate on the development and allocation of water resources in a white paper published in during December. The 800-page report brings together all information available from official sources in a massive compilation of data that will form the basis of the forthcoming National Hydrological Plan. This in turn will be the foundation of Spanish water policy well into the coming century. Water is an increasingly scarce and extremely unequally available resource in Spain, and the white paper analyses its availability and exploitation in terms of a network of some 500,000 territorial "cells" that are intended to match geographical with political and technical realities. The paper takes a strategic look at future water policy. It identifies the problems of water supply and allocation and offers a framework for coordinating the operation of the country's major catchments. It specifically rejects the hotly debated proposal, which has been current for some years, to interconnect major reservoirs throughout the country in an attempt to equalise the availability of this scarce resource; only exceptionally will water be transferred from one region to another.

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