[Marxism] In Spain, Water Is a New Battleground

David Picón Álvarez david at miradoiro.com
Tue Jun 3 13:15:19 MDT 2008

Interesting article. There are some other factors of interest too, though. 
One of the big issues on the 2008 general election was the PHN (plan 
hidrológico nacional, national water plan) which was approved by the 
right-wing government before 2004, anulled by the incoming social democrats 
in 2004, and which the right wing promised to revive if they got to power, 
which they didn't. The PHN is basically suicidal. It involves transferring 
water, more or less for the foreseable future, from the river Ebro, in the 
north, to the south eastern parts of the country (Valencia, Murcia) which 
are dry and where it is in my view not very sane to cultivate water-thirsty 
crops. However the PHN would create exactly the wrong incentives, and 
perhaps some farmers bet on the right wing to reinstate it.

At the same time as the PHN proposes a transfer from the Ebro, the farmers 
around the Ebro have been, although receiving enough water, close to minimum 
levels. Barcelona, near the Ebro, almost required an emergency water 
transfer from the Ebro for human consumption, but the recent rains (which 
also have led to relatively major floods) have made this unnecessary now. 
The current strategy involves desalinization (which is problematic, because 
it is very energy intensive and the social democrats in power are against 
nuclear energy, although there are some interesting and potentially useful 
solar thermal experiments being conducted) as well as further use of dams, 
and an improvement of water infrastructure (much water is lost in transit). 
Water is, at least to some extent, a public good in Spain, which is why some 
manner of planning is at least legally possible, although far too little of 
it is taking place as of yet.


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