Local Daily News 12th May

Orihuela approves a grant of 60,000 euros for the Educational and Interactive Museum of Sciences of the Vega Baja del Segura

Orihuela has held the first local government meeting chaired by the mayor Carolina Gracia together with four socialist councillors and five mayors from Ciudadanos, after the motion of censure to unseat the PP was successful. The first in an ordinary session, because two have been held in extraordinary and urgent calls, one on April 25th, the same day the motion went ahead, and another on 29th, with the new positions and powers.

Among the four points that have appeared on the agenda, the approval of a direct subsidy for the foundation that manages the Didactic and Interactive Museum of Sciences of the Vega Baja del Segura of the Valencian Community (Mudic) has stood out. The amount amounts to a total of 60,000 euros, of which half is paid now and the rest at a later stage.

The objective of the Mudic is to disseminate and invite children, young people and adults to discover science through different activities that are scheduled throughout the year and are carried out by a multidisciplinary team. Visits to the facilities are carried out by schools and other educational entities, except on weekends when they are open to the general public.

The museum is municipally owned based on an agreement that the City Council signed in 2008, when the Miguel Hernández University of Elche (UMH) and the “Hypatia de Alejandría” Association of Science Teachers joined this project. Also by virtue of this agreement, the Mudic is located on the Desamparados campus of the UMH and is managed by a foundation of which the consistory is a patron, the mayor being president of the patronage.

The deputy mayor and spokesman for the government team, José Aix, was expected to give an account of the agreements reached at the meeting before the media at a press conference, as was customary in the previous stage, although finally he suspended the appearance.

That turnaround in the governing board by Ciudadanos, which has come to have a majority, has raised dust, although Gracia and Aix have reiterated that it is a balance, since while the socialists hold the Mayor’s Office, those of the orange formation take more weight in this municipal body, one of the most important. The argument, they have insisted on multiple occasions, is to overcome personalism and the desire for control that the PP exercised until then in the previous stage and work with agility for the sake of unblocking the city.

The Consell urges the Ministry to act now at the mouth of the Segura to prevent flooding

For the Consell, it is a priority to act at the mouth of the Segura River to prevent flooding, as reiterated by the President of the Generalitat, Ximo Puig, during his visit last week to Dolores, where he announced an investment of 12 million euros more in the improvement of the irrigation network in the Vega Baja. However, this unavoidable action is getting stuck because, being a public hydraulic domain area, the powers of different administrations converge.

With the aim of speeding up this matter, the Consell has proposed to the Segura Hydrographic Confederation (CHS) to draw up the project and the environmental impact study of a work that the CHS would carry out with State funds, explained the general director of Water and former commissioner of the CHS. This project would have the purpose of, on the one hand, eliminating invasive species and, on the other hand, recovering the drainage capacity of the river. In short, restore the mouth. Thus, he has indicated that there is a good disposition on the part of the CHS, for which he trusts that in the coming weeks the Generalitat will be able to make the specifications and the drafting commission.

For his part, Antonio Alonso, director of the Vega Renhace Plan, the project that the Consell launched as a result of the 2019 DANA to refloat the region, has claimed the need to act comprehensively at the mouth, reiterating that “the Generalitat considers it a priority to do so in a concrete and clear way”. In order for “this vitally important issue to be speeded up and promoted”, he has underlined, three meetings are going to be held these days. The first has been carried out in the City Council of Guardamar del Segura, while the following will be with the CHS and the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge (Miteco) in order to determine at what point this action is, its roadmap and in what terms it will be executed.

Alonso has not ruled out going to Madrid, because what is clear is that “the river plug must be removed to avoid tragedies.” For this reason, “without acrimony”, he has urged the competent administration, the Miteco, to “resolve this problem in an agile way and from a technical and not a political point of view, preventing it from being left in limbo”.

In this sense, he has recalled that it is not only important that the least amount of water arrives, through the lamination of the land, but also that the one that reaches the mouth is evacuated in the shortest possible time, which would alleviate the floods. And that happens by carrying out a dredging in the final section, which must comply with the environmental requirements as it is also a protected area. However, “it cannot be dredged and in a few months it will be the same again”, he added, referring to the fact that it will not do any good if the connection of the old channel with the new one is not undertaken, something that the 2019 DANA proved. Therefore, “we cannot bury the money; an in-depth action must be carried out from the N-332”, he pointed out.

Another of the measures, although less significant in terms of investment and infrastructure, is the one that is going to be carried out these days by the CHS, which is going to install eight floating barriers in the “azarbes” that converge at the mouth, without forget the cleaning of plastics and reeds that obstruct the channel.

In this first meeting, which was convened by the Vega Renhace Plan office, the mayor of Guardamar de Segura, José Luis Sáez, stressed that “beyond cleanliness, the main problem is evacuation”, which is why demanded speed from the Miteco: “You must take the bull by the horns”. Thus, he has insisted that “in the region we are clear that we must act because there is no drainage capacity.” In his opinion, “no longer a DANA but any avenue would be absolutely devastating.”

It should be remembered that a judge from Orihuela is investigating whether the abandonment of the CHS in the Segura multiplied the damage to the DANA, as a result of a complaint by the traditional irrigators of Almoradí that pointed to the lack of maintenance as the cause of the breakage of the river bed. So far, several senior and former officials of the entity have been summoned, including President Mario Urrea and his predecessor Miguel Ángel Ródenas.

For its part, the Consell has been pointing out for some time that action at the mouth is a priority, without this having been achieved so far. In January, it presented a score of actions to be carried out this year, marking its expansion and cleaning as “unavoidable” and prioritising the connection between the old and new riverbed, the permeabilization of the N-332 and the removal of sediment.

The Consell now turns to the protest against the cut of the Tajo-Segura transfer after two years absence

The Consell has radically changed its low-profile discourse in recent days regarding the cutback of the Tajo-Segura transfer and, perhaps aware of the socioeconomic disaster that is approaching in the south of the province of Alicante, perhaps due to the need for the votes to one year after the regional elections, the president of the Generalitat, Ximo Puig, has activated the order that there be massive support for the concentration called by farmers and businessmen next Tuesday in the Plaza de la Montañeta in Alicante, in front of the Government Subdelegation. A position, that of the Consell, which represents a radical change because in the last two years, since the mobilizations began in the street against the cut in the transfer, they have not attended any demonstration, neither in Madrid nor in the province of Alicante, except for the Ministry of Agriculture, Mireia Mollà, once in Elche and the regional secretary, Roger Llanes, in the last march of “Sos Rural” in Madrid this year.

It is not ruled out, even though it is unlikely, that the head of the Consell himself decides to attend the concentration scheduled from 11 in the morning and that the PSPV is promoting with its own poster, apart from the video released on networks by the Generalitat. The Diputación has been there from the first moment, the Elche City Council as well and even Compromís, ambiguous until a couple of months ago in everything related to the future of the Tajo-Segura, supports the call of Asaja, the Central Irrigation Union of the Tajo-Segura and Central Board of the Júcar-Vinalopó Transfer.

The agrarian organisation, the SCRATS and the irrigation communities grouped under Riegos de Levante Margen Derecha, Riegos de Levante Margen Izquierda and the Central Board of Users of Vinalopó have asked for the maximum support of society and industry in the province to break the leaf of the Government’s route: convert the transfer into a simple urban supply channel, so the objective is to fill the Alicante square. “Until now we can speak of the collective failure of the territory to defend water. Our politicians, with few exceptions, have not moved on the street or in the offices with folders and reports,” says Ángel Urbina, one of the organisers of the protest.

There will be tractors in front of the door of the building that represents the Executive in the province and its decisions. The irrigators will distribute fruit and vegetables in protest at the suppression of irrigation flows and the price of the products. All organisations work to achieve the maximum adherence of entities and civil society.

“The water problem is not environmental, but rather political and territorial. We are going to fight until the end because we are not satisfied with this sectarian decision,” José Vicente Andreu, president of Asaja, stressed. Farmers have been denouncing the, until now, ambiguous position of the president of the Generalitat, Ximo Puig, since having defended the idea of ​​”water forever” has only “created confusion with an ambiguous message full of false promises that he accepts the change of the transfer water for desalinated water. That is to say, it leads us to have half the water at double the price”, maintain sources from the organisers.

For their part, the Chambers of Commerce of Alicante and Orihuela agreed on Tuesday to once again express their support for the Tajo-Segura transfer, as was already publicly stated in the meetings held with the presidents of the Chambers of Almería, Murcia, Cartagena, Orihuela and Lorca. Both organisations insist that the transfer “is an unavoidable necessity that cannot be subject to constant ups and downs and partisan changes of position.” They recall that the Study Cabinet of the Chamber of Alicante made a document, later ratified by the rest of the Chambers, where the economic and labour impact of the water deficit was analysed, which was sent to the regional, central and European Commission governments.

The study concluded that the economic, social and environmental impact that cutting the Tajo-Segura would have with the increase in the ecological flow warns that there would be a real strangulation in Alicante, Murcia and Almería, due to the fact that, today, there is not Sufficient desalinated water to replace the decrease in the flow sent from the Tajo, which will be altered as soon as the increase in the ecological exceeds one cubic metre per second. Remember that the initial proposal of the Tagus Confederation is committed to raising the ecological flow from 6 m3/second to 8.52 m3/second.

Substituting desalinated water for transfer will cause a price increase of between 20% and 130%. At risk, therefore, according to the technicians, 2.8% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Spain (3,000 million euros) and 3.7% of national employment (106,000 jobs). The authors of the study also point to the high energy bill that the replacement of the transfer water by desalinated water will entail. While moving a cubic metre of transfer water (thousand litres of water) requires 1.21 kW/hour, the production of that same cubic metre of desalinated sea water represents a consumption of 4.32 kW/hour.

For his part, the president of Murcia, Fernando López Miras, has appealed to the unity of the Spanish Levante to defend the maintenance of the Tajo-Segura transfer and prevent the “roadmap” of the central government, which passes through the “end” of this infrastructure, get ahead. “We are not going to allow the PSOE to close it,” he remarked. “We cannot allow the PSOE to close the transfer as all its leaders have already said they want to do. We are going to do whatever is necessary, we are going to unite, we are going to fight, we are going to work, to vindicate, to demand; we are going to to reach the end and to use all the tools at our disposal”, he said.

On the other hand, the Entrepeñas and Buendía reservoirs, at the head of the Tajo and from where the transfer to the Segura River starts, have gained 12.52 cubic hectometres in the last week and accumulate 754.24 hectometres, which means 29, 95 percent of its total reservoir capacity, which reaches 2,518 cubic hectometres.

According to data from the Tajo Hydrographic Confederation, as of May 9, 2022, the Buendía reservoir accumulates 449.02 cubic hectometers of water, 4.15 hm3 more than last week, which represents 26.33% of its total capacity, which is 1,705 cubic hectometres.

Likewise, the water reserve in the Entrepeñas reservoir has added 8.37 cubic hectometres in the last seven days, so that it stores 305.22 hectometres, 37.54% of its total capacity, which stands at 813 cubic hectometres.

A year ago around this time, the swamps at the head of the Tajo stored 851.84 cubic hectometres, 33.83% of its reservoir capacity. In its entirety, the swamps of the Tajo hydrographic basin store 5,580.89 cubic hectares of water this week, 49.72 less than last week, which represents 50.50% of the total capacity of the reservoir, which is 11,051 cubic hectometers.

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