Spanish province seeks to coax farmers to use desalinated water

The new provincial government for Valencia, Spain is seeking to encourage farmers to use desalinated water to irrigate their fields in the face of strong farming community reluctance due to high cost and low quality.

Community president, Ximo Puig, said: “We must optimize and use these [desalination] resources much better than is currently the case and we must do so as soon as possible. The costs must almost certainly be reduced, because these are investments that we are making in our future, so we have to ensure that they are very effective.”

Affected desalination projects include Europe’s largest at Torrevieja which is stalled in trial operation.

There are many areas in the region that are not being used by farmers to cultivate crops simply because the price and availability of water is not acceptable to them. In a bid, late last year, to revive the use of neglected land, the provincial government tried convince central government to include local desalination plants in the National Water System which would spread the cost of desalination nationally making the local price more acceptable to the farming community

The US$ 330 million Torrevieja plant was built to shore up irrigation of the Tajo- Segura in dry periods and has the capacity to meet the drinking water demand of 440,000 people. But it will not start to produce desalinated water until early next year, when it will operate at half capacity.