WFD Implementation Problems – The Ebro (2)


A “water bubble”

European environmental legislation, benefitting only a few construction and water supply companies at a high price for society and nature. Spain has experienced already the negative effects of the so called “construction bubble”, which led the country to a profound economical and social crisis. We experience the same dynamics in waterworks: in the Ebro basin many new irrigation channels and new dams are being constructed. These infrastructures will increase water extraction without taking into account environmental flows vital for the Ebro Delta region, nor the efects of climate change on water availability. Spanish government is pushing waterworks to completion before the approval of the Ebro River Basin Management Plan (RBMP). They aim to comply with “aquired commitments” with farmers/users and to enforce “fait accompli” policies, distorting WFD goals. The measures included in the RBMP draft on the table today are de facto impeding environmental flows to be implemented and directly obstruct environmental objectives.

Economic fraud

If the Ebro RBMP is not rectified before being passed, a huge amount of European funds will be spend on economically unviable proyects, as many other cases show. For example, the Segarra Garrigues irrigation channel has created a huge public debt: overdimensioned and in a SPAB area, it is not able to involve the farmers liable for the water tariff, which was also set too low (cost recovery <10%). The companies who invested in this channel are claiming their returns as established in their tender contracts, but the government is bankrupt. Therefore a water bank is now proposed, in order to sell the irrigation water to the Barcelona Metropolitan Region, involving private water supply corporations on both sides of the pipe. European public money intended to enhance rural development is now going to feed speculative water trading via interbasin transfers

Citizen participation

Currently no RBMP for the River Ebro has been passed for the first cycle (2009-20015), but the government has already announced the revision process for the second cycle (2015-2021). How is this possible? What are we going to review? No data are available to establish any real evaluation on the Plan of Measures, nor on the evolution of water bodies’ status as water quality monitoring and control programmes are now shut down due to lack of funding.
Since the year 2000, we, the Ebro citizens, have used all the instruments made availale by Europe and Spain in order to be active participants in the development of the River Ebro management policies. Unfortunately we find the same obstacles over and over again: no transparency, no access to relevant information and non of our contributions have been taken in account. If this doesn’t change, citizens will not believe it is worth participating in any future act on the WFD calendar.


The Spanish government is preparing a “repeat” of the national water policy already discredited by the EU in 2000: the National Hydrologic Plan was rejected by the EU because of its effects on the Ebro Delta, but today we find almost exactly the same plan about to be put back on the table by the Ebro RBMP draft and by the political declarations of the Ministery with constant references to “re-distributing water resources”. As a matter of fact, the RBMPs of the rivers involved in most significant waterworks are precisely those which have still not been passed, inter alia, because they’re difficult to justify under the required WFD principles.

Petition 0938/2012

Given this, the social movement, the Plataforma en Defensa de l’Ebre (Ebro defense group) and Coordinadora Anti-transvasaments have presented Petition 0938/2012 to the European Parliament which we will be defending in a Parliamentary session on Tuesday 9th July (

The technical background of this petition indicates the infringement of, at least, the following directives: 2000/60/CE WFD, 79/409/CEE Birds, 92/43/CEE Habitat, 2005/35/EC Environmental liability, 2001/42/CE EIA, 91/676/CEE Nitrates, 2008/56/CE Sea

Read @ DMA Delta Ebre

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