In a letter to the Ministry of Environment and Planning, dated June 25, we expressed our concern about the decrease in the flow of the “Manantial” de Los Molinos del Rio Aguas.
The spring has suffered a decline from 40 Litres a second to 15 L / s. According to our data from the spring, this will be insufficient to maintain the ecosystem of El Rio De Aguas. and the integrity of the “Paraque Natural del Karst y Yesso of Sorbas”.
The spring is fed from the high basin of the “Aquifer Del Aguas” (Ref: 060.008).
The feed is enabled by a large inertial flow of underground water. The water flows through gypsum rock and detrital material of the basin, and takes decades before upwelling at Los Molinos del Rio de Aguas.
The exploitation of the aquifer, and the consequent decline in hydraulic pressure, has caused a cone of of depression to appear within the aquifer. Even if the exploitations were to be stopped now, it would take decades for the spring to recover.
In recent years, no measures have been taken to remedy the situation, in fact the problem has been exacerbated by the introduction of new irrigated agricultural land usage, especially in relation to the massive irrigation of Olive trees.
We assume that these changes have the authorization of the Ministry of Agriculture within the Government of Andalucia. (Consejería de Agricultura de la Junta de Andalucía.)
The records show that when the Hydrological Plan for the Andalucian Mediterranean Basins were written, there were two hundred and twenty one hectares (221 hectares) of olive trees under irrigated cultivation in the discussed area.
In 2012 The Insitute of Statistics for Andalalucia stated that in the municipalities of Sorbas, Tabernas, Lucainena, Tahal and Uleila, three thousand, six hundred and seventy nine hecatres (3,679 hectares), of olive trees were under irrigated cultivation.
This area continues to grow with the addition of large extensions of “super intensive” cultivation. These areas of “super intensive” agricultural production are also irrigated with water from the aquifer. i
Based on data from 2008, the Plan indicated that the aquifer was already over exploited. Now, in 2014, the exploitation is much higher than reflected in the report.
Annex 3 of the Plan for the Hydrologic Basin written by The Government of Andalucia states:
“Not included in the preliminary list of the MIMAM, the hydrological area 06.08. Alto Aquas cataloged in the SRPHCS as over exploited estimates that extractions in the year 2000 exceeded by 20% the average totals evaluated by IGME.
The increase of pumps for irrigation over the last years has led to a situation of absolute unsustainability reaching an exploitation rate of 3.3, which means that extractions are 230% over the mean available resource.
This body of water, together with the subterranean water GWB 060.034 of the “Fuente de Piedra”, are in actuality, cases of the most unsustainable extractions in the whole area.”
Althoughnot available, there is important continuity in hydraulic pressure recorded at the control network of IGME . They confirm the diagnosis that since 1995 (at the end of a drought), till 2001 , the hydraulic pressure dropped by more than 8 meters, an annual drop of around 1.5 meters, which has, since 1998, accelerated to 3.3 meters per year. "
Over exploitation of aquifers, seawater intrusion and other processes of salinization.
Territorial unsustainable development models.
Insufficient use of unconventional resources.
Existence of illegal harvesting.
Insufficient control of extractions.
Contamination of springs and inland water.
Bad placement of solid waste treatment plants.
For this we feel that such authorizations should not be granted for an aquifer in such a quantitatively bad condition thus following the Water Directive Framework, and the Hydrological Plan for the Mediterranean Basin of Andalucia.
In the light of the aforesaid, this institution is required to take action to prevent the further exacerbation of this situation.
Consequently, this institution is obliged to take measures to prevent the continuing exacerbation of the problem, and not to postpone the attainment of good status in the aquifer until 2027.
In this situation with continuing extractions from the aquifer for existing plantations, and with more plantations planned for the immediate future it will be impossible to comply with the partial reduction of exploitation to 1,042 hectares planned for by 2015 in order to re-establish the good condition of the aquifer by 2027.
Moreover, we have evidence that it was necessary to deepen, and or join aquifers in the bore holes, to maintain the flow owing to over exploitation.
It is estimated that a depth of 400 meters has been reached, arriving at the fossil water aquifer of Nevadofilabre-Alpujarride, where the water may contain levels of radioactivity which would prevent it's use as a supply.
It should be noted, that in our Association we have the information that on the deepening of the bore hole Albarracin, which serves Sorbas, the analysis of the water revealed radioactivity, resulting in the sealing of the bore hole.
If this correct, to perforate the deeper aquifer would contaminate the upper aquifer with radioactive water unless adequate measures are taken to create insulation.
Whichever way we look at it, the possibility that radioactive water is being used for irrigation, that can be over the limits established for human consumption (Directive 2013/51 European Commission of October 22cnd., 2013) concerns us that this could have considerable negative impact, not only for our cultivations, but for all of Almerian Agriculture.
1. We are empowered in the law of Access to Environmental Information of 27/2006 in which access to environment information is declared a basic right to be exercised by any citizen or association with legitimate interest in the environment. We ask for the information relative to the management and condition and elements of the mass of water in the aquifer “AcuiferoDel Aguas in the sector of Alto Aguas, (Sorbas, Tabernas), actions taken in its entirety (wells, springs, bore holes), their treatment and thei quality and quantity of these masses of water, as is the object of this Admistrative act.
The law added on 9 December, Ley 19/2013 establishes that the information must be provided to the public with established limits. In this case we are covered by a legislation giving special access, the law, 27/2006
For this, we SOLICIT:
1.- That you give us the following information:
- The most recent data at the disposal of the Ministry concerning the network of control over the aquifer.
- The amount of land that has been authorized for transformation into irrigated land on this aquifer since the year 2000.
- The information relative to the management and state of the elements of the of the mass of water of the aquifero in the sector of the Alto Aquas (Sorbas, Tabernas), and the actions that have been taken in relation to these elements, (bore holes and springs) and the quality and quantity treatment of these waters.
2.- That the following measures are taken urgently to prevent damage to the aquifer.:
- Make an urgent Hydrological study to allow us to know the actual state of the aquifer and it's relation to the Paraque Natural del Karst de Sorbas, the spring of Los Molinos, the supply to distinct areas of population and the quality, (especially in relation to natural radioactivity), of these waters
- Stop any new irrigation schemes until the aquifer has returned to a good condition and do not use alternative sources
- Immediately initiate control on withdrawals from existing wells, both in volume and depth and water quality, especially with regard to the possible radioactivity thereof.
- Immediately close any detected irregularities in concessions, (perforations or concessions which are not authorized. )
- Promote alternative projects, urban and agricultural, that will permit the recovery of the aquifer and the return to environmental balance
- The Water Framework Directive indicates that the costs of water use should be assumed by the users, and in this case through the regional administration responsible for the management of water, development, the use and management of it, will negate budgetary problems.
In Almeria, July 2014