A 2030 strategy needed for Menorca’s water

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Menorca needs a road map to coordinate water policies. Currently, there are no effective strategies and, if not remedied, the future picture is of depleted, saline and nitrate contaminated wells. On the World Day of Water, GOB asked for a joint initiative between the Consell Insular and the Island’s town councils to set guidelines.

Water policy is the responsibility of the Balearic Government. However, the Department of Water Resources, that is answerable to the Ministry of the Environment, has no policy to deal with the challenges ahead. There is a general lack of compliance with the European Directive on Water where Menorca, despite its strategic importance, has been forgotten due to major emergencies in Mallorca and Ibiza.

The old water policy said that the aim of public management on this matter was to respond to all demands. To have as much water as was required.

However, maintaining this policy, which Europe has asked be abandoned, is leading to a progressive loss of resources.

Already, there are many municipal wells unable to give the service and meet the health regulations because no one has wanted to manage the excessive use. A good deal of the excess use is still happening.

There are urban areas that use well above average water. It is a common problem in urbanisations where there are gardens not adapted to the Menorcan climate. There are people who easily quintuple their logically predicted consumption rates.

This problem ought to be addressed by a reorganization of the water tariffs charged by town councils. Those who use the logical amounts of water should continue to pay very little (usually less than a euro per tonne). However, those whose use is above the expected parameters should face tariffs that would incentivise savings and the use of rainwater and recycled purified water.

The PTI (Plan Territorial Insular) has to incorporate obligations for significant savings to be made in new construction works. GOB’s objections to the PTI are especially emphatic on this matter.

Then we have lack of control of intensive farming, where large corn-fields are irrigated in full summer sunshine. Due to the negligence of the Balearic Government, there are farms irrigating up to 14 hours per day on the same field, with no periodic inspection to see if their meters work, with no demands for relative annual extractions required by the current regulations.

It is necessary to regulate purification plants that dump heavy metals into the sea, the destruction of the natural values that is made by the current cleaning of streams, the permanent revision of a Water Plan that has never had the courage to deal with the principal problems. All these matters are anticipated with regulations in the European Framework of Water Directive with which the Balearic Government has not yet complied.

The experience of the 2030 Strategy for the decarbonisation of Menorca has made it possible to align policies, establish criteria and deal with objectives that are changing the energy situation of the Island even though we have still not yet seen results for much of it. However, it is necessary to do the same for water issues because, currently, we have neither results nor strategy.