Although in the Iberian Peninsula we are surrounded by water except in the Pyrenees, the liquid element is a very important value when evaluating its management, use and functionality. For this reason, in Spain a complex and convoluted legal framework has been created to accommodate water management. However, different variables have to be taken into account to understand water management.
Wars for water
Commonly referred to as such, they are conflicts between the various bodies that have jurisdiction over this resource. Well known are the battles caused by the transfers of the Ebro, for example, because of the hydrological differences between Autonomous Communities. The scarcity of some areas continues to provoke these clashes to maintain control, theoretical or practical, of water.
A complex competition scenario
The transfer of powers between the State and lower bodies has led to an intricate network of competences over this resource, which complicates the management and use of them.
The immense legal framework
As a result of, or because of, this list of administrative competences of which we spoke earlier, there is a gigantic body of legislation on the issue of water management. This has increased throughout the 20th century, resulting in a very intricate legal labyrinth. Thus, because of its complexity, it reduces the possibility of this issue being subject to public debate.
The entities created for the administration of the waters have been endowed with an obscurantism in their management. One only has to read the news to know the opacity and clandestinity with which the managers of these organizations operate. This also reduces transparency and public participation in water management.
The involvement of the State -and its different administrations- in water management has been limited since the beginning of the 20th century to the creation of public works and subsidies. So much so that these works and subsidies have become a value in themselves, created to be maintained. For this reason, the study to know the real state of the water in the area where the conditioning or improvement is going to be carried out is overlooked more than it should be. This means that water management is not taken advantage of to the maximum.
In the administrations to which the government has delegated this water management, it is the responsibility of the different Water Agencies. On the other hand, those of state management are in charge of the Hydrographic Confederations since the Royal Decree of 5 March 1926. They are responsible for this administration, as well as for the large river basins.
What do the Hydrographic Confederations do?
Like any autonomous body, the Hydrographic Confederations make their budgets and draw their lines of action. Thus, their monitoring of the Public Water Domain allows them to carry out inspection, sanctioning, and granting permits and concessions, and they are also in charge of carrying out works considered to be of General Interest to the State.
As for its structure, it usually responds to a modular vision of water management. This is due to the fact that public domain management and works and exploitation are carried out in separate offices and entities. On the other hand, there are also public water companies that depend on the Ministry of Finance. Their function is to carry out works of general interest through agreements in order to recover the costs of construction, use and maintenance. These actions, however, are inspected by the corresponding Hydrographic Confederation.
Administration of Hydrographic Confederations
These bodies are articulated in a series of commissions and government boards. These are generally made up of representatives of users and members of the relevant Confederation. Thus, we find, mainly:
- Exploitation boards dedicated to the fixing of prices to be paid for the use of water.
- Unpacking commissions in charge of setting the levels of unpacking water to meet demand.
The governing body, on the other hand, is the Governing Board of the relevant Hydrographic Confederation. This body is made up of members of the administrations – depending on to whom the competence belongs – and representatives of the users.
The Demarcation Water Council
There is also another body, the Demarcation Water Council, designed for participation and planning. This body was created in accordance with article 26.3 of the rediffused text of the Water Law. A Demarcation is considered to be the land or marine area made up of one or more neighbouring hydrographic basins, as well as their underground and coastal waters, according to the European Water Framework Directive. In this body they do have representatives of society and institutions responsible for the protection of the environment.
In Hydraulic and Energy Projects we advocate good water management. Therefore, from our company, we want to contribute our grain of sand through our facilities. Technologies such as pumping up to high raft by solar energy allow us to be more responsible with water savings. This results in a reduction of expenses for the irrigator and an investment for the environment. This is due to a better use of water resources. It also means zero use of fossil fuels, resulting in zero carbon dioxide emissions.
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