Positive Environment News

Drought-Hit Spain Looks to Penalise Heavy Water Use

Date: 31-Oct-06
Country: SPAIN

After the worst drought on record in 2005 and below average rainfall again in the year ended on September 30, the country's reservoir levels dropped to their lowest in a decade.

Environment Minister Cristina Narbona said she was planning to guarantee a minimum amount of clean water for everyone and would raise prices above that limit.

"In principle, in line with a proposal made by Ecologists in Action, we suggest a minimum of 60 litres (13 gallons) a day per person," she said.

"(There will be) a reform of the water law to penalise excessive consumption via tariffs charged," Narbona said at the start of a national water council meeting, which is due to debate several proposals.

A ministry spokeswoman denied household consumers would face higher prices if they used more than the 60 litres a day allowance. The onus may fall on other users.

Narbona did not say how the reform would affect farmers, who use 77 percent of Spain's water. Urban consumption accounts for 18 percent and industry the remaining 5 percent.

Spaniards now use an average of around 170 litres a day and water prices vary.

In some towns it is practically free and farmers often sink illegal wells and obtain water from aquifers for no more than the cost of pumping it.

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