Lack of water in Doñana

lack of water in doñana

We know that the Doñana marshes are a very important nature reserve throughout Spain. The drought that Andalusia is suffering is becoming more aggressive as time goes by. This type of ecosystem survives thanks to rainfall and the accumulation of water. Vegetation and fauna are adapted to these environments and increasingly lack of water in Doñana.

In this article we are going to give you what are the problems of the lack of water in Doñana and what are its consequences in the short, medium and long term.

Lack of water in Doñana

lack of water

The aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems of the Doñana National Park provide the ideal conditions for a unique biodiversity in this protected space. It is in this natural park of more than 50.000 hectares distributed among the provinces of Huelva, Cádiz and Seville where some of the most representative species of Spanish geography are found, such as the Iberian lynx or the imperial eagle, all of which are in danger of extinction. But, in addition to its privileged location (between Africa and Europe, between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea), Doñana is also a unique wetland in Europe, a sanctuary for thousands of species of African and European birds.

Water is the lifeblood of the reserve, but it has become a point of contention for farmers in the area. In this case, it is not the brackish water of the sea water, but the brackish water of the underground aquifer that nourishes life in the largest wetland in Europe and faces the greatest threats today.

It is the approaching drought, the depletion of aquifers and the patience of environmental groups and many farmers in the region who have seen how illegal well drilling has depleted the reservoirs they depend on for survival.

The lack of water in Doñana is not new, but has resurfaced recently due to the double climate and environmental crisis. On the one hand, the drought is severe during a year with very little rain, which has a direct impact on the health of the aquifer, which it is currently estimated to be below 30% of its capacity. On the other hand, a controversial bill could legalize the inappropriate use of irrigated crops, mainly strawberries and other red fruits, in the so-called "Doñana norte" in the province of Huelva.

In fact, the laws that are currently being processed could mean that nearly 2.000 hectares of irrigated crops are subject to illegally obtained water sources, according to figures provided by WWF, the group that promoted the creation of national parks and now denounces their lack of protection. .

new bill

lack of water lagoon in doñana

The new law has provoked a backlash from environmental groups, civil society groups, consumers, and even some farmers themselves: those who abide by the law. In addition to the Ministry of Ecological Transition, the new regulatory framework has also been condemned by the European Commission, which has warned that it will impose sanctions on Spain if it goes ahead with the proposal. It is not the only European institution to speak out against this lack of protection: last June, the Court of Justice of the European Union issued a resolution condemning the alteration of protected habitats caused by the extraction of groundwater. The difference is that, in this case, the sentence could lead to significant financial penalties.

Strawberry Project and the lack of water in Doñana

illegal wells doñana

Specifically, the regulatory changes include the revision of the Special Plan for the Management of the Doñana Forest Canopy, known as Plan Fresa, approved in 2014 to deal with the overexploitation of illegal aquifers. This regulation will complement the Land Management Plan of Andalusia (POTA), which specifically regulates the irrigation sector in the Doñana region.

The Strawberry Plan divides land mainly by land use (irrigated and rainfed), based on how it was classified 10 years ago when the land use plan was approved. However, it did not consider the incorporation of other irrigated lands that were not registered in 2004, many of which corresponded to illegal uses that had been implanted later. The new project of law approved by the Andalusian parliament will suppose the acceptance 'de facto' of all the irrigated lands that were not previously catalogued.

Preliminary estimates claim that the figure represents an increase of about 800 hectares, but an expert report commissioned by WWF estimated the additional land at more than 1.903,7 hectares, almost 140 percent more than the official figure.

Less water for more irrigators

“The aquifer has been overexploited and the only way to restore this important volume of water is to reduce its pressure,” said Carmona, explaining that there is not enough water for everyone. “The cake is the same, or it is separated, or people are removed from the equation, there is no other formula. The only solution is to depressurize the aquifers and implement the strawberry plan," explained the expert, noting that surface water will not be able to meet the supply demand of these new irrigation equipment.

The environmentalist added that in addition to being a hard blow to the famous wetlands, the measure proposed by the district council is also a kind of disgust for farmers, since it punishes and rewards those who respect the law. Stolen water, he points out.

How much water was illegally extracted in total? Conservation groups estimate that illegal wells can currently irrigate more than 4.700 hectares, equivalent to more than 5.700 soccer fields.

"The authorities that are supposed to watch over the future of Doñana ignore international organizations and allow the theft of the natural resources that keep the swamp alive," WWF explains in a statement. In fact, the NGO has been working for years in Condemn the lack of protection of the aquifer, in which more than 1.000 wells and hundreds of hectares of illegal irrigation are secured. His final movement is to denounce the deterioration of Doñana before Unesco and the European Commission, which have agreed with the ecologists. Their future resolutions will mark the future of this natural wonder World Heritage Site.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about the lack of water in Doñana and its consequences.


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