Delayed Torrevieja plant pays penalty

The close-to-complete largest desalination plant in Europe at Torrevieja, Spain has lost € 55 million (US$ 63 million) in funding because it has failed to meet operational deadlines according to recent reports.

A spokesperson for Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment agency, Acuamed Aguas de las Cuencas Mediterráneas, said “circumstances surrounding the development” prevented it from meeting the deadlines for the 2002-2006 operational programme and insisted the delay was not Acuamed’s doing.

Acuamed has requested a reallocation of the finding to the 2007-2013 programme, which is currently “pending a decision by the European Commission”. The threat to the funding could result in the cost falling to Acuamed, and subsequently being passed on to the end users.

The 220,000 m³/d plant was scheduled originally to come on stream in 2009. After years of court cases water is still not being sent to the intended users, largely in the Murcia region. Last year the Constitutional Court overturned a 2007 agreement to halt construction after a conflict of jurisdiction between central and Valencia courts.

Of € 300 million (US$ 342 million) has been invested by Acuamed, Aguas de las Cuencas Mediterráneas, € 55 million (US$ 63 million) was from European funding.

Despite the delays in its infancy, the plant could have been fully operational in the summer of 2013.

Water is being processed at the plant, but it is currently on schedule to produce just 80 million m³/d, expandable to 120 million m³/d.