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It has been revealed this week that the much hyped desalination plant in Torrevieja, the largest in Europe, has lost out in 55 million euro of funding, on account of operational deadlines not having been met.

Despite the plant being theoretically ready to operate, after years of battles, court cases and wasted expense, the water is still not being sent to the potential users, most of whom are in the Murcia region incidentally, where farmers are trying to negotiate on a cheaper price on account of the already inflated cost of water from a plant that was intended to offer lower costs to users.

With 300 million euro invested by Acuamed, Aguas de las Cuencas Mediterráneas, 55 million was from European funding, although that funding is under threat on account of the deadlines not being reached, which would result on the cost coming back to Acuamed, thus passed on to the end users.

A spokesperson for Acuamed stated that the delay in satisfying the deadline was through “no fault” of theirs, and that “because of the circumstances surrounding the development” those deadlines for funding of the 2002-2006 operational program could not be met, and so Acuamed has requested the inclusion in the 2007-2013 program, which is now “pending a decision by the Commission”.

The plant should have been fully operational in 2009 but met with obstacles along its entire timeline, ultimately resulting in the cessation of work whilst the courts decided on the future, which occurred in 2014 when the Constitutional Court annulled an agreement set out in March 2007 that ordered the paralysation of construction. A conflict of jurisdiction raised by the central government against Valencia stopped the works.

Acuamed has also said that other beneficiaries and management bodies are also awaiting the decision from Brussels regarding the recovery of the 55 million euro in aid destined for Torrevieja has already been spent by the Spanish central government on other projects, such as improving the supply of water in the Segura basin. Notice has already been served on central government that the European Union could claim back the subsidies for the desalination plant.

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 cubic hectometres, expandable to 120, with half of the production directed, in theory, to supplies south of Alicante and Murcia, the other half to the Segura basin for sale irrigators, assuming a beneficial price can be agreed.

Although we have still to reach the rainy spring season on the Costa Blanca, the reservoirs of the Segura basin are currently only at 62.2% capacity, considerably less than the 71.2% at the same time last year, but both of those are higher than the 56.4% reserve in 2013 at this time.

Facing higher demands and lower reserves for all water users, and with farmers alone across the area facing increasingly difficult times, with many of them destroying crops as their destruction is sometimes more cost effective than distributing to the supermarkets and retail chains demanding lower prices, the need for their reduced production costs are clear, but sources suggest that the Confederation has not yet given concessions to farmers so they can buy the water, partly due to the insecurity of the operation, and partly due to claims that the plant couldn´t satisfy the demand at any coast, as the site does not yet have sufficient electrical power.

Filed under: http://www.theleader.info/article/46371/

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