More than 1,000 hectares of illegal irrigation in the surroundings of the Mar Menor, in Murcia, have ceased their activity, after the sanctioning files opened by the Administration against their owners. At the same time, the central government has announced a new millionaire investment in addition to the one already recently approved to recover this ecosystem.
The Minister for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera, has announced an increase of 102 million euros in the investment planned by the Government for actions in the Mar Menor, which will thus go from 382 million to 484 million euros.
Ribera visited the Region of Murcia on Friday to meet with the different environmental, social, business and trade union organizations involved in the crisis of the salty lagoon, the city councils of the area and the president of the Region of Murcia, Fernando López Miras, in compliance of the commitment made in September 2021 to move to this autonomous community to account for the situation.
The increase in announced investment includes 22 million euros to recover ecosystems in the Mar Menor strip and another 20 million euros to facilitate the diversification of activities in the agricultural field.
Ribera’s last visit to the Region was last November and since then 600 allegations have been submitted to the framework program to recover the salty lagoon, with 79 participants, which includes platforms, irrigators, companies or universities, but of which the The minister has highlighted that 50% are private citizens, reports Efe.
He recalled that since 2018, 283 disciplinary proceedings were initiated for private use of water without authorization.
After receiving the notification, 52 farms have voluntarily closed irrigation, an area that represents 1,007 hectares, while 628 hectares are in subsidiary execution and the owners of another part have appealed and are awaiting a judicial resolution.
The intention of the Government of Spain is that the processing of these files is ready in the month of March, “which does not mean that there is a possibility of executing the closures”, Rivera has expressed, because these depend on the judicial process.
Asked about the slurry produced on farms in the areahas pointed out that “to the extent that the pressure of the pollutants exceeds thresholds that end up affecting the aquifer and can endanger the quality of the water, discharges into the Mar Menor and the quality of the soil, the obligation of the administrations is to regulate them properly”.
In addition, he consideredoutrageous and irresponsible” the intention of the Andalusian Executive to try to legalize irrigation in the area of Doñana. “There is no water to legalize irrigation”, he assured, adding that “the inability to respond to something in which they have no competence cannot be hidden”.
Ribera: the need to act at source
The minister assured during the meeting with the president of Murcia, Fernando López Miras, that The contamination of the Mar Menor will not end if action is not taken at its source.
Miras and Ribera met this Friday at the Murcian Government headquarters to address the situation of the Mar Menor, a unique ecosystem that has been suffering from a significant process of degradation for years.
in the meeting, Miras has reiterated his request that the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge put an end to the polluting discharges that reach the Mar Menor through the Rambla del Albujón«one of the most important wounds for which the Mar Menor is bleeding».
He assured that through this boulevard 80 liters of water with nitrates enter the lagoon per second from the water runoff from irrigating the fields, 6 cubic hectometres per year with more than a thousand tons of these pollutants.
“If we do not manage to cut off this entry of discharges, the rest of the measures in the medium and long term will not work. Either we close this wound or, when the original stockings take effect, the Mar Menor will be lost », he warned.
For his part, Ribera has indicated that the Official State Gazette already published last December the works to repair three sections of impulsion and pumping of that water from the crops of the Campo de Cartagena, a priority and short-term initiative to reduce the discharges indicated by Lopez Miras.
However, in his opinion “Deep work” is necessary in the medium term to recover the boulevards, create green filters, restore the area’s hydrology and forestry, and reduce the supply of nutrients.
All these measures at source, he explained, are contemplated in the Ministry’s Action Plan and will start between this year and next, but he has insisted that these works by themselves will not solve the problem, so acting at source “is essential”.
Mar Menor Monitoring Committee
Miras has also demanded that the process be accelerated to cut off the water to the 8,500 hectares of illegal irrigation detected by the Segura Hydrographic Confederation in the Mar Menor environment, which has already been done on a thousand of them, according to Ribera.
The Murcian president has also announced the creation of a Mar Menor Monitoring Committee that he himself will chair and that will report periodically on the state of recovery of the lagoon, in a similar way to what is done every week with the coronavirus.
López Miras reviewed the initiatives launched by his Government, such as the reinforcement of the body of inspectors, with up to 27 who have carried out 700 reviews of more than 10,900 hectares around the Mar Menor.
Also the investment of 1.5 million euros in monitoring Campo de Cartagena with a thousand probes, half installed since the last visit of the minister in November.
From that date 420 tons of biomass have also been removed from the area’s beaches and 54 boats.
The beginning of the works of the rainwater collector of Los Alcázares (1.7 million) and in another 10 collectors in the riverside towns (11.5), the storm tanks of Torre Pacheco (3.6), La Unión (0.4) and Playa Honda (6) and 55 initiatives of the Sanitation and Purification Plan worth more than 176 million euros.