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Water Science and Technology Vol. 40 No 10 pp 161168 © IWA Publishing 1999

Management of the Ebro River Basin: Past, Present and Future

Francisco A. Com

Department of Ecology, University of Barcelona, Diagonal 645, 08028 Barcelona, Spain

ABSTRACT

The Ebro River Basin (85,500 km2 in NE Spain) is characterized by a marked spatial heterogeneity of its geology, topography, climatology and land use. Many reservoirs (138, total water storage capacity of 6,837 hm3) and canals were constructed during this century for agricultural irrigation, electricity production and domestic use. Now, irrigation is allowed in 778,284 ha. There are also 40 aquaculture systems producing 35% of the total Spanish trout production. The mouth of the Ebro River (a 320 km-2 delta area) is very productive for agriculture and fisheries. Industrial activities are localized in the upper NW and central parts of the Basin, causing low water quality in the fluvial system. Salinization of land and river water occurs in the central part, because of salt dissolution, run-off from irrigated fields and groundwater abstraction. Present management is under the responsibility of different administrative agencies. A special agency is responsible for water control and distribution. A new management plan has been recently prepared with the major objective of satisfying the water demands, which are estimated as 7,000 hm3 yr-1 (18,200 hm3 yr-1 is the estimated available water). Most of this comes from agriculture for irrigation (6,310 hm3 yr-1), human use (313 hm3 yr-1) and industrial activities (414 hm3 yr-1). Water is also demanded from other basins. A total water demand of 10,771 hm3 yr-1 has been estimated in the Ebro Basin for the year 2015, maintaining similar proportions as before for the three major uses. In the future, saving and recycling water should be incorporated to the basin management as part of an strategy to distribute water as a function of existing and potential uses in the Basin and for promoting and re-adapting land and water uses to the availability of the resources, including inter-annual climatic fluctuations, and to preserve natural habitats.

 

 

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