In a bid to improve Spain’s resilience to the effects of climate change and develop procedures to optimize the use of water for irrigation, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fishery and Food announced the establishment of a new board and sustainable irrigation observatory.
The decision comes on the heels of European Union initiatives to improve governance and policies of a critical water management area in Spain. The initiative is part of the country’s broader Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan, developed under the umbrella of the E.U.’s NextGenerationEU strategy.
The new board will include public administrations centered on agriculture, irrigation companies, production chain actors, farming organizations, researchers, environmental associations and other stakeholders. In addition, the public administrations responsible for water management and environmental assessment will also be involved.See Also:Drought on Iberian Peninsula Expected to Persist Through November
The board’s primary goals include facilitating cooperation, discussion and information exchange between the public administrations and the other parties involved. According to the ministry, these activities will facilitate governance and the deployment of an efficient irrigation policy.
The board will help coordinate the irrigation and water management policy. “It will also propose and promote measures for the prevention or control of the environmental impacts derived from irrigation, as well as the design of good practices in farms for the same purpose,” the ministry said.
Among its top priorities are the environmental and sustainability issues related to irrigation.
The ministry said the board would act “as a forum for communication, analysis and debate on aspects related to the economic, social and environmental sustainability of irrigation in Spain; make proposals to increase energy efficiency, save water and digitalize farms and report on investment plans and regulations.”
The new board will be supported by the sustainable irrigation observatory, which is in charge of gathering and providing relevant information to public administrations and other stakeholders.
Its work will focus on the leading economic, social and environmental indicators to contribute to the sector’s transparency. To that end, the observatory will also have a website managed by the ministry.
The urgency of a comprehensive irrigation strategy has been cited for years as the country works to counteract the growing threat of desertification and the dramatic effects of Spain’s worst drought in more than 1,000 years.
According to the latest data published by the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, the levels of the national reservoirs continue to shrink. They have now fallen nearly 32 percent of their total capacity.
The reservoirs of the Guadalquivir basin in Andalusia the world’s most productive olive oil-producing region, are now at 19 percent of their capacity. The basin of the 657-kilometer river is crucial for the wider Andalusian Mediterranean basin, which is at 37 percent capacity.
As local media reports, the capacities of the central Guadiana and Southern Guadalete-Barbate basins also have dropped significantly, each falling to about 23 percent.
Currently, the country’s reservoirs store 17.7 billion cubic meters, down from the 22.3 billion cubic meters recorded last year and well below the 10-year average of 27.8 billion cubic meters.