Water Management Paradox in Southern Europe. The case of Spain
5th International Conference on "Water Resources Management in the era of Transition"
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A careful analysis of the different water policies in the European Countries may produce some apparently surprising conclusions. On the one hand, the northern countries that, in spite of their low water stress (they hardly irrigate), have a low per capita water urban consumption, whereas paying high and progressive water prices per used cubic meter. And, by the other hand, the southern countries that suffer a high water stress (the demand to irrigate their fields could reach up to 80%), have a higher per capita urban water consumption and keep rates up to ten times lower than those for the northern ones. Mainly due to that, their water distribution systems use to be much more inefficient. In all these southern countries the periodical droughts have created a nice and deep culture, but roughly adapted to the acutal running times. Where water is scarce, it is poorly managed. This surprising paradox is analysed in this paper. The historical culture of the Mediterranean countries developed a wise use of the water that has not yet been adapted to the present scenario. On the contrary, the impressive industrial development in the north of Europe created (very soon) serious problems of pollution that required efficient and imaginative solutions towards sustainable water management. Presently, the new Water Framework Directive put a very important and fascinating challenge to the European Union (EU) countries, to locate so many different European water policies under the same umbrella.
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