Third World Centre for Water Management

Journals

Volume 23, Issue 1

Special Issue: Water Management in Aragon

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EDITORIAL

GUEST EDITORIAL
Water Management in Aragon

FOREWORD


WATER LEGISLATION IN ARAGON (pp. 20-11)

Antonio Embid, Faculty of Law, University of Zaragoza, Spain

E-mail: aembid@unizar.es

Abstract: The Autonomous Community of Aragon has no major jurisdictional authority in terms of water and associated public works, but it has a clear interest in water issues. One legal example of that is the 2001 Aragon Water Law together with all its subsequent amendments. The Law has led to the creation of a public entity, the Aragon Water Institute, and to a planning instrument, the Principles of Water Policy in Aragon, through which the community tries to participate actively in water policy.


MODEL FOR SOCIAL PARTICIPATION IN THE FORMULATION OF WATER POLICIES (pp. 21-39)

Alfredo Boné-Pueyo, Government of Aragon, Zaragoza, Spain

E-mail: mjimenez@aragon.es

Abstract: Water policies involve very wide-ranging problems. The paper considers the possibility, or the capability, of arriving at agreements that can sustain water management policies at various decision-making levels and with regard to a range of issues relating to water. Different types of problems and obstacles that the model attempts to overcome, as well as the main conditioning factors that are likely to be encountered, are analysed. The proposed model of consultative participation is based on the experience of the Aragon Water Commission.


INSTRUMENTS OF PUBLIC PARTICIPATION IN ARAGON WATER POLICY: THE ARAGON WATER COMMISSION (pp. 41-50)

José Montoya-Hidalgo, Faculty of Law, University of Zaragoza, Spain

E-mail: agudema_iaa@aragon.es

Abstract: This study aims to achieve a juridical approximation to the main instruments of public participation in policies of water management in Aragon. The social context in which water policy has developed until very recently was one of almost constant conflicts among water and land users (lowlands and the mountains). The traditional system of participation allowed users to participate in the governing organs of the hydrographic confederations that were set up by the 1985 Spanish Water Law. Changes were introduced by the European Union’s 2000 Water Framework Directive, while the creation of the Aragon Water Commission the following year led to an advanced system of participation.


THE ARAGON WATER COMMISSION: A PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE (pp. 51-61)

José Francisco Aranda-Martín, Aragon Water Commission, Zaragoza, Spain

E-mail: faranda@aragon.es

Abstract: The Aragon Water Commission consists of 65 members and 17 groups of stakeholders: social, economic, sectoral and local organizations, neighbourhood movements, experts in water policy, and the university, among others. Yet, despite its wide-ranging membership, it has registered achievements that would have been unthinkable only a few years ago. It has passed judgement on the Aragon Water Infrastructure Plan; drawn up, and approved the Principles of Water Policy on the basis of consensus; and reached agreements that have broken the logjam on such controversial projects as the expansion of the Yesa reservoir. These successes have generated a scenario without winners or losers in which it will be possible to meet the expected future demand for water, and use it rationally, while respecting environmental values and permitting new developments free of the uncertainty that conflicts generate.


ARAGON’S ACTION PLAN FOR WASTEWATER TREATMENT: A MODEL OF ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT (pp. 63-72)

Sodemasa, Department of Water Projects and Department of Biodiversity, Zaragoza, Spain

E-mail: isanchezmora@sodemasa.com

Abstract: In order to meet the targets set by European Directive 91/27/EEC on treatment of urban wastewater, the Government of Aragon launched the Special Plan for Sanitation and Water Treatment (PESD by its Spanish initials). The plan aims to treat wastewater in all agglomerations with a population-equivalent of more than 1000 inhabitants. The challenge is a major one, given that Aragon’s relatively small population is very widely dispersed over frequently mountainous terrain. For the purposes of the plan, Aragon has been divided into 13 zones and 132 treatment plants are being built for 172 centres of population. Each zone is managed by a 20-year administrative concession, while projects are financed by a ‘Sanitation Toll’ in accordance with the principle of cost recovery. The population centres participating in the programme will receive environmental and social benefits as they see their rivers brought back to life.


CHANNEL ADJUSTMENTS, FLOODPLAIN CHANGES AND RIPARIAN ECOSYSTEMS OF THE MIDDLE EBRO RIVER: ASSESSMENT AND MANAGEMENT (pp. 73-90)

Alfredo Ollero, Department of Geography and Land Management, University of Zaragoza, Spain

E-mail: aollero@unizar.es

Abstract: In the middle Ebro River there is a 346 km reach, between Logroño and La Zaida, consisting of a free meandering channel on a wide floodplain. This reach contains a discontinuous riparian corridor, including valuable riparian forests and oxbow lakes. During the last 80 years this channel has witnessed substantial changes in channel morphology, area of bars, riparian vegetation and floodplain uses. The sinuosity growth, migrations and meander cut-offs have been frequent. There has been a progressive and significant decrease of both the area covered by water and the gravel bars without plant colonization. As a result of this, the riparian corridor width has been dramatically reduced for the benefit of human uses. The deceleration and nearly elimination of the Ebro channel free meander dynamics represents an important natural heritage loss. Dams, changes in land-use throughout the basin and river flood defences that restrict the channel have altered the system behaviour, which urgently needs a management plan combining both improvements and risk reduction.


RIVER WATER QUALITY AND IRRIGATED AGRICULTURE IN THE EBRO BASIN: AN OVERVIEW (pp. 91-106)

Daniel Isidoro and Ramón Aragüés, Unidad de Suelos y Riegos, CITA (Centro de Investigación y Tecnología Agroalimentaria de Aragón), Zaragoza, Spain

Contact: Daniel Isidoro, e-mail: disidoro@aragon.es

Abstract: Irrigated agriculture notably increases crop productivity but may negatively impact river water quality because of the salt and agrochemical loadings in irrigation return flows. We evaluated the salinity and ion concentrations in 31 river stations of the Ebro basin, characterized the quality of waters for irrigation, and analysed the influence of irrigation on river water quality. River water quality is generally good in regard to salinity (EC), N03 and P04 concentrations, and water quality for irrigation of the most important schemes within the Ebro basin is excellent for crops although it may promote the degradation of sensitive soils. A preliminary analysis of the impact of irrigated agriculture on river water quantity and quality indicates that it is significant in rivers collecting high salt and N03 irrigation return flows. Nevertheless, due to the low salinity of most irrigation waters, maximum irrigation efficiencies are attainable in the Ebro basin without compromising crop yields due to root zone soil salinization.


WATER RESOURCES AND PRECIPITATION TRENDS IN ARAGON (pp. 107-123)

José M. Cuadrata, Miguel Ángel Saza, Sergio M. Vicenteserranob and José C. González-Hidalgo

aDepartment of Geography, University of Zaragoza; bPyrenean Institute of Ecology, CSIC, Zaragoza

Contact: José M. Cuadrat, e-mail: jmcuadrat@unizar.es

Abstract: This work analyses the trend of annual precipitation in Aragon during the second half of the twentieth century, the spatial differences that this trend might entail in the Autonomous Community, both on an annual and a seasonal scale and the impact on water resources and their management. The regional series (1950–2000) presents drier and more humid phases and a slight negative trend which is not significant from the sixties onwards. The Zaragoza, Huesca and Teruel observatories follow a similar evolution. As regards to space, no significant trends can be observed in the annual totals of any Aragonese county; but instead on a seasonal scale there are some differences: winter shows a precipitation decreasing gradient from south-east to north-west, opposite to the one produced in summer. Autumn has a clear north-south decreasing gradient, whereas spring does not offer clearly defined patterns. To be able to face the possible adverse effects coming from the rainfall decrease, efficient water policy actions are in need of a high degree of planning and rational water management.


WATER AND LAND REGULATION IN ARAGON (pp. 125-134)

Mónica Lacasa, NL Consultores, Aragon, Spain

E-mail: nlconsultor@wanadoo.es

Abstract: The close link between water policy and spatial planning is well illustrated within the Autonomous Community of Aragon. The construction of dams and irrigation channels has spurred social and economic development in large tracts of Aragon, but other of its areas have suffered the consequences. The rapid urbanisation of Aragon, as in the rest of Spain, has added an important new element to the equation.


IRRIGATION AND ITS MODERNIZATION IN ARAGON (pp. 135-145)

Eugenio Nadal, NL Consultores, Aragon, Spain

E-mail: nlconsultor@wanadoo.es

Abstract: The use of water for irrigation is of concern to all those involved in water management in the Autonomous Community of Aragon. This article tackles issues that relate to the modernization of existing irrigation systems, by means of consolidation and improvement programmes, as the new priority of contemporary irrigation policy. At the same time, the article considers the roles played by the various agents charged with carrying out the programmes-basically –state-owned companies– and of the fanners in their irrigation communities. The positive impact of these measures in achieving better and more efficient management of water resources, as well as the negative environmental impact that derives from the new demands for energy, are also presented and discussed.


INSTRUMENTS FOR WATER QUANTITY AND QUALITY MANAGEMENT IN THE AGRICULTURE OF ARAGON (pp. 147-164)

José Albiaca, Enrique Playánb and Yolanda Martínezc

aDept. Agricultural Economics, CITA-DGA, Zaragoza; bSoil and Water, Estación Experimental de Aula Dei (CSIC), Zaragoza, Spain; cDept. Economic Analysis, Economics School, University of Zaragoza, Spain

Contact: José Albiac, e-mail: maella@unizar.es

Abstract: The traditional policy of developing new irrigated areas in Aragon has been changed to irrigation modernization through investments in distribution networks and on-farm irrigation equipment. This new policy creates opportunities to introduce more profitable crops, conserve irrigation water and abate agricultural nonpoint pollution. Several alternatives open to irrigated agriculture are bioethanol and biodiesel technologies (which could provide a support price for grains), the expansion of profitable fruits and vegetables under drip irrigation, and the diversification of water using activities (animal farming, industries, residential areas and sport utilities). Alternative measures to abate agricultural nonpoint pollution are examined in this paper. Modernizing irrigation structures leads to a large reduction of pollution, and introduces reasonable costs to farmers (in terms of their rent). Results also show that water pricing-advocated by the European Water Framework Directive-is a wrong policy in irrigation, because irrigation demand does not respond to prices and also because water pricing is not cost efficient to abate pollution.


GROUNDWATER IN THE CENTRAL SECTOR OF THE EBRO BASIN (pp. 165-187)

Teresa Carceller-Layel, Carmen Costa-Alandí, Pablo Coloma-López, Miguel Ángel García-Vera and Javier San Román-Saldaña, Ebro Hydrographic Confederation, P. Sagasta, Zaragoza, Spain

Contact: Miguel Angel García-Vera, e-mail: mgarciave@chebro.es

Abstract: This article describes the groundwater situation in the Aragon zone of the hydrographic basin of the Ebro River. It provides a historical overview, the main geological characteristics of Aragon, the volume limits of groundwater currently available and the total amount of water resources. With respect to water quality, it includes a description of its natural content and the problems caused by nitrates and industrial pollutants. Finally it indicates the main groundwater concerns that are currently being looked at and the principal challenges.


A BRIEF HISTORY OF WATER PROJECTS IN ARAGON (pp. 189-204)

Miguel Arenillas, Ingeniería 75, Madrid, Spain

Contact: Miguel Arenillas, e-mail: ing75@ing75.com

Abstract: Aragon’s long and intense water history has left multiple marks on the landscape. Many are mere ruins of projects whose purpose is difficult to discern; other remains are hidden below later repairs or reconstructions. In some cases, however, complete waterworks have been preserved in virtually their original state. This is especially true of the major projects of each historical period, in which the aim –almost invariably achieved– was to reach the highest possible standards with the technology available at the time.

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