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Climate Action 2009-2010

Torrevieja’s

Torrevieja’s desalination plant. Desalination, an efficient solution © Océ SPECIAL FEATURE 180 Water is essential for life. Therefore, phenomena such as climate change and the progressive growth of the population all over the world, force us to look for intelligent and innovative solutions to solve water shortage problems. Facing this challenge, the Government of Spain has re-oriented water management in all its main aspects – environmental, economic and social – considering it as a high value device in development cooperation policies. FACING THE CHALLENGE In order to provide a competitive and durable solution to the current hydrologic imbalance in the Mediterranean basins, the Government of Spain, through the Ministry of the Environment, Rural and Maritime Affairs, is developing in this area over one hundred initiatives. All of them are based on efficient investment and sustainable development in compliance with the highest standards of the European Union. As such, the infrastructures under construction guarantee a higher equity and wellbeing for the population, taking advantage of the best available state-of-the-art technologies and promoting the maximum social agreement in all cases. These infrastructures allow guaranteeing the availability and quality of water through technologies such as the reuse of sewage water, the modernisation of irrigation systems or seawater desalination. The State Society Aguas de las Cuencas Mediterráneas, Acuamed, is the main instrument of the Ministry for the Environment, Rural and Maritime Affairs when it comes to developing the infrastructures necessary to ensure, now and in the future, a sufficient water supply in the Mediterranean Basins, from Tarragona to Málaga. Acuamed is in charge of over 80 projects representing a total investment of €3,400 million. These solutions are focused on reaching goals such as generating new resources through desalination and reuse, the improvement and management of existing infrastructures, and the modernisation of irrigation systems and environmental recuperation of deteriorated areas. THE DESALINATION PROGRAMME Water desalination appears as part of the scope of solutions proposed within the framework by the Ministry for the Environment, Rural and Maritime Affairs. This technology, present in Spain since the 1960s, has notoriously increased its competitiveness thanks to technical advances and also to the leadership of Spanish desalination companies worldwide. It allows obtaining, via an unlimited resource such as seawater, the quality water needed for human consumption and for irrigation in coastal areas – regardless whether or not it rains. Therefore, it also makes it possible to improve the natural hydric resources management, avoiding the overexploitation of aquifers or marine intrusion, and all of it conducted under the strictest criteria for land and marine environmental preservation, since all the desalination plants comply with a rigorous Environmental Impact Assessment. The desalination programme of the Ministry for the Environment, Rural and Maritime Affairs, consists of a total of 32 plants, which generate a total amount of 860hm 3 quality water per year, which is enough to meet the requirements of more than 10 million people. Likewise, the irrigation of over 250,000 agricultural hectares, most VISIT: WWW.CLIMATEACTIONPROGRAMME.ORG

ACUAMED DESALINATION INVESTMENTS } Performing framework: Mediterranean basins } Desalination investment: €1,000 millions until 2011 } Total projects: 18 } Water production: 479hm 3 per year. } European Union: co-finances all projects. } Torrevieja and Águilas, major plants in the Mediterranean European region: €567 millions in investment, 420,000m 3 desalination water per day The Águilas desalination plant. of which are dedicated to high performance crops, is ensured with the use these new resources. From the 32 desalination plants foreseen, 11 are already in service, representing an investment of €795 million and a production of 325hm 3 of water. The most recent example is Barcelona’s desalination plant – promoted by the Ministry for the Environment, Rural and Maritime Affairs, and carried out by the Autonomous Community – that started its production of 200,000hm 3 a day (60hm 3 per year) last summer in order to supply drinking water for the city’s inhabitants as well as those in its surrounding areas. DESALINATION IN ACUAMED Acuamed invests almost a third of its budget, which means more than €1,000 million until 2011, in the development of 18 desalination projects that are to reach a total production of 479hm 3 per year. All of these projects are carried out with European Union funds, only given to projects that fulfil the highest standards of environmental caring. “ The desalination programme of the Ministry for the Environment, Rural and Maritime Affairs, consists of a total of 32 plants, which generate a total amount of 860hm 3 quality water per year, which is enough to meet the requirements of more than 10 million people “ The plants managed by Acuamed use the desalination procedure known as inverse osmosis. It consists in taking the seawater and filtering it by using sand filters and very fine membranes, which separate drinking water from seawater. Seawater, with higher salt concentration levels, is returned back to the sea once it is diluted by diffusers in order to prevent harm to the marine environment. Technological developments, amongst other efficiency improvements, have led, in only ten years, to the reduction of energy consumption in these plants by half. The high quality of water obtained through these procedures allows it to be used for human consumption or irrigation of all kinds of crops, especially those with a high demand for water supply. For this reason, these procedures are also the adequate solution for guaranteeing the continuity of economic activities such as specialised intensive agriculture or tourism, since coast settlements with the highest flow of summer visitors also face a high water supply demand. Amongst the most relevant projects that Acuamed is currently developing are: Torrevieja (Alicante); Águilas/ Guadalentín (Murcia); and Cuevas de Almanzora (Almería) – all of which are in the advanced construction phase. Likewise in process are the works at Cabanes/ Oropesa(Castellón); Sagunto (Valencia); Mutxamel/El Campello (Alicante); and Campo de Dalías (Almería). The desalination plants in Torrevieja (Alicante) and Águilas/Guadalentín (Murcia) will be, once completed and as soon as they start functioning, the largest in the Mediterranean European region. They both represent a total investment of €567 million, and they have a production capacity – altogether – of 420,000m 3 per day (80hm 3 per year for the Torrevieja plant – designed to produce 50 per cent more if needed – and 70hm 3 per year for the Águilas/Guadalentín plant). The Torrevieja plant directs half of its production to the drinking supply and the other half to irrigation. This plant is conceived with two main goals in mind: to guarantee the water needs in the Segura Basin, complementing the contributions made from the Tajo Segura transfer; and to relieve the current overexploitation of underground water sources. Likewise, the new plant of Águilas/Guadalentín (Murcia) guarantees the water supply in the Alto Guadalentín region as well as correcting the overexploitation, nowadays unsustainable, of the area’s aquifers. In a nutshell, it is all about providing more efficient, sustainable and agreed upon solutions for more rational water consumption, something that belongs to society as a whole. Enquiries ACUAMED Albasanz, 11 28037 Madrid Spain Tel: +34 91 423 45 00 Website: www.acuamed.es SPECIAL FEATURE 181 VISIT: WWW.CLIMATEACTIONPROGRAMME.ORG