Spanish National Hydrological Plan
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Adopted by the Spanish governement in June 2001, the highly controversial Spanish National Hydroelectric Plan (NHP) plans the building of 120 new dams as well as huge transfers from the Ebro river to the south-east of Spain and from the Rhône river to Barcelona. Since it is contrary to sustainable development objectives, all environmental and other NGOs, as well as numerous academics, scientists, unions and political parties are trying to stop this project. They are mainly trying to block the funding from the European Union. The EU is indeed supposed to finance 40% or more of this project that contradicts the new European Water Framework Directive.


The NHP elaborated by the Ministry of Environment is a legislative text, which includes a list of "investments" (or "interventions", i.e. the proposed water infrastructure and other works) for the whole of the Spanish territory (a total of 863 water infrastructure and other works), and a series of annexes containing different supporting documents, such as an analysis of the hydraulic systems, the identification and allocation of resources in shared aquifers, an economic analysis of the planned interventions, etc.

As explained in the rationale of the legislative proposal, the central issue of the proposed NHP is the regulation of water resources by transfer from catchments that have (so-called) water "in excess" to catchments with a (so-called) "water deficit", which is considered to be the most suitable solution to satisfy water demands throughout the national territory. In this context, the NHP points out that water transfers are only proposed for cases where it is necessary to ensure urban water supply and to provide water to existing irrigation infrastructures that are suffering from severe scarcity.

In addition to the already existing water transfers (e.g. Tajo-Segura) and other minor hydraulic works, the Plan establishes the creation of a new water transfer of 1,050 cubic hectometres per year from the Ebro river to the following areas (involving the development of 381 water infrastructure and other works): Catalonia (190 hm3), Comunidad Valenciana (315 hm3), Murcia (450 hm3) and Almería (95 hm3). Except for the 190 hm3 to be used for supplying fresh water to the urban area of Barcelona, the remaining transferred volumes are reserved for the agricultural areas that have "irrigation rights" or to improve the ecological quality of water ecosystems subject to severe degradation in the Southwest of Spain.
Along with the framework for regulation of the public hydraulic domain, the NHP establishes the management of aquifers, the improvement of the water use for urban supply, the development of awareness-raising activities towards an efficient use of resources and the investment of public money in R&D activities related to water resource management.

From an economical point of view, the plan includes a major expenditure of 4,207 million Euro for the Ebro water transfer - to be executed in 8-10 years time - and other investments amounting to 8,869 million Euro for a number of hydraulic works (dam construction and improvement of irrigation infrastructures ), to be carried out during an in 8-year period. Other sums are being reserved for desalination, water treatment and supply (5,420 million Euro), water quality control (1,260 million Euro), flood prevention and reforestation (3,294 million Euro). The Government foresees that one third of the global cost (23,050 million Euro) of the NHP will be paid by the European Union.

According to the figures given by the Ministry of Environment, the cost of the water transfer will be of 0.3 Euro per cubic meter, both in the urban and in the agricultural areas. The water price for the final user will cover this cost and will be established using economical criteria. The territories of the Ebro watershed that provide the water shall be paid 0.03 Euro per transferred cubic meter to fund hydro-environmental programmes in the Ebro area.

see also the following interwiews (in french) :

- Interwiew de PEDRO ARROJO dans le Bulletin de liaison de la "Plataforma en Defensa de l'Ebre"
"LO RIU" juin 2001
(Traduction Valérie Valette, ERN)

- Interwiew accordé à Radio Zinzine par Pedro Arrojo, professeur d'économie à l'université de Zaragosse et président du Congrès Ibérique de Gestion de l'Eau, Juillet 2001)




Map PHN (format pdf, 553 KB)
Map (interactiv, El Pais) of the planned new dams (ext)
Map of water conflits in Spain (ext)


- The Water Transfer Rhone-Barcelona :
the project. (in French)

- Manifesto "Reconciliation with rivers" presented by Coagret-Ebro Vivo in Zaragoza on 14.03.03 (sp). Analys
- New questions from the Green Eurodeputies to the Europ. Com. about financing NHP and the Cartagena Report, on feb.26.03. by Gianluca Solera (french and spanish).
Analysis of argumentation in favor of the NHP, by Prof. M. Chóliz Montañés, Psychology Dpt in Valencia University. (in spanish).

- Answer from the Spanish govern. to the Europ. Commission on jan. 08. 03 (spanish).
- A new letter of the Europ. Commission to the Spanish Governement, sent on dec.19. 02.
(in french) spanish on demande

- Letter against NHP sent by WWF, EEB, Greenpeace, SEO Bird life and Earth Friends, to the Europ. Commisionle President, on Nov. 26.02.
- Interview extracts of the Ramsar Convention President during the 8th Conference in Valencia (23.11.02.)
- "Les insurgés du Delta" : article by L. Le Chatelier in Telerama (27 july/2nd august 02) in french.
- 15-26 November 2002: 8th Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention, Valencia, Spain.

13-17 November 2002 : III Congreso Ibérico sobre Gestión y Planificación del Agua in Sevilla University, Spain, about the "Water Frame : realities and futurs".
- Report on the Ebro Delta prepared by Professors John Day (Louisiana Univ.) and Edward Maltby (London Univ.). Sept. 02.Text in english and in spanish.
- "No to the P.I.D.E. " the
Integral Proctection Plan for the Delta". text by the "Plataforma en Defensa del Ebre"
-"The Ebro transfert : Briefing for a reduction of environmental impacts" : universitary essay by Valérie Lacroix, student at the Environment Section of the Bruxels Free University (june 2002)
- WWF: Seven Reasons To Stop The Spanish National Hydrological Plan
(june 2002)

- ERN position on the PHN.
May 2002 (in french only, english version soon)
- The letter sent by the European Comission to the Spanish Government on the 23rd may 2002 :
comments and questions based on the NHP analysis presented by the Spanish government in January 2002 to the European Comission. (english).
- Analysis of the Strategic Environmental Assessment Document of the NHP presented to the European Commission by the Spanish Government (January 2002)
A document of the New Water Culture Foundation, prepared by a scientists team under the direction of Professor Pedro Arrojo, Dept. Of Economic Analysis, Zaragoza University.
- "Save the Delta of Ebro" : main arguments against NHP compiled by the "Plataforma of Defense of Ebro". February 2002.

International Conference Spanish Hydrologic Plan and Sustainable Water Management Environmental aspects, water reuse and desalination June, 13th - 14th, 2001 (ext - in Spanish)
- How the NPH will permit maintain and extension of non-sustainable corn culture in semi-arid Castilla-La Mancha regions, by Antonio Estevan. (in french and in spanish).
- Sharing the waters of the iberian peninsula (10 pages) 2001 (ext)
- Transrural Initatives (article, 1 page) (ext - in French), 4. October 2001
- RAMSAR report on the Ebro delta (ext - English summary), Sept 2001
- Article NZZ Neue Zürcher Zeitung (in german, pdf) 15. Sept. 2001
- The Blue March for a new water culture in Europe, July/August 2001
- "Spain and California compared water managements" . Pedro Arrojo interviewed by "Lo Riu"
June 2001(in French)

- The Manifesto of New Water Culture Fondation (french and spanish) 2000
- When the rain in Spain is not enough article by Octavi Marti, "Courrier de l’UNESCO" (engl./french), December 2000

- Aragonese opposition to the NHP in the Pyrenneans mountains.


- Fundación por una Nueva Cultura del Agua : New Water Culture Foundation (english/spanish/portugues site) Spanish scientists engaged for a New Water Culture (Zaragoza University).
Movements against NHP Coordination in the Pyrenneans (in Zaragoza).

- Plataforma en Defensa del Ebre
Social Movement Platform for the Defence of the River Ebro
, in the Ebro Delta (Tortosa).
- Information about water management
problems and hydrological politicy in Spain (in Spanish)
- Spanish Ministry of Environment / PHN page (ext - in Spanish)
- Natural Parc of the Ebro Delta (ext. in english and spanish)


- 2665 pictures about the fight and actions against NHP by the Plataforma en Defensa del Ebre
- Press pictures and resume from the Blue March in Mallorca island on may 2002 (in french, ERNs website)
- Pictures from the Blue March accross Spain, France and Germany until Bruxels
on august 2001 (ERNs website)

- Pictures of year 2000 demonstrations in Zaragoza (400 000 people), Madrid and Barcelone (250 000)
- More pictures on actions against the NHP (externe, in Spanish)
- Campaign Calendar Of The Platform For The Defense Of The River Ebro
- Interwiews with Prof. Pedro Arrojo (in French)

NEWS : the current events of the NHP

19.12.05 : Water transfers back on Spain's agenda
18.08.04 : Spain: A turnaround in water management (WWF )
19.06.04 : Visca l'Ebre! (Long live the Ebro!): The Ebro Delta celebrates! (Ebro water transfer is abolished )

03.05.04 : Spain Puts Last Touches to New Ebro Water Plan
08.03.04 : EU Commission pans Spanish water transfer plan
17.12.03 : EU : Decision delayed on Spanish water transfer
08.12.03 : Espagne/PHN : NGOs call for sending e mail to EU Commisioners
04.12.03 : EU Commission's Environment Directorate support for the the Jucár-Vinalopó Project, what is a part of the highly criticised Ebro transfer
07.11.03 : The european campaign for a new water culture and against the spanish hydrological plan opens the "blue embassy" on wednesday november 5 , 2003
28.07.03 : Spain : New Water Culture Foundation and WWF Report : the Ebro water transfer is a waste of money.
16.07.03 : NHP : urgent alegation to sign against Ebro water tansferts (in engl/french/spanish).
24.06.03 : European co-financing of NHP blocked by the Environment European Commission (fr/eng)
16.06.03 : Eviction of Itoitz village : people is resisting (fr/sp).
06.05.03 : Water transfers are increasing the water crisis (EEB/WWF)
: (ext) Ebro :spain public opinion divided

14.04.03 : Pedro Arrojo, leader of the mouvment against the spanish Hydroplan, wins Goldman Price 2003.
22.03.03 : 30 000 people celebrated World Water Day in the Ebro Delta.
13.03.03 : international video-conference by internet :"Debating the water transfers of the Spanish National Hydrological Plan".
08.03.03 : Spain designates 10 new RAMSAR sites and extends an existing one
02.03.03 : Spain : Hundred of Thousands protest in favor of polemic water plan (AP)
26.02.03 : New questions from the Green Eurodeputies to the Europ. Com. about financing NHP and the Cartagena Report, on feb.26.03. by Gianluca Solera (french and spanish).
25.02.03: EU tax payers should not fund Spain's damaging water plan (WWF)
23.01.03 : Analysis of argumentation in favor of the NHP, by Prof. M. Chóliz Montañés, Psychology Dpt in Universidad de Valencia University. (sp). on demand.
15.01.03 : Report on the Ebro Delta prepared by Professors John Day and Edward Maltby (engl)
08.01.03 :
The answer from the Spanish govern. to the Europ. Commission.(spanish)
19.12.02 : A new letter of the Europ. Commission to the Spanish Governement
, sent on dec.19. 02.
(in french or spanish).
27.11.02: "Dam decisions" put Spain in the hotseat (WWF pressrelease)
26.11.02 : NGOs protest to Prodi over spanish Water Plan
24.11.02 : Marcha al Mediterraneo : Demonstration in Valencia (fr).
23.11.02 : Rhone-Barcelone water transfert : project of a submarine pipe.(fr)
18.11.02 : the Catalan government will ask tomorrow the Rhône water transfert to the Madrid central government during a non-official meeting.
17.11.02 : Marcha of the Ebro and the Rhone : 17 000 walkers on the stage of Tortosa (Delta of Ebro). 09.11.02 : Espagne/France: Marches (Marcha al mediterraneo) against water transfers are on their way, on the Ebro and Rhône rivers, heading to Valencia for the Ramsar Convention on November 24th.
: WWF: Spanish Government's figures and data on National Hydrological Plan's Ebro Transfer benefits are wrong and misleading

04.10.02 : Spain/France :"Marcha al Mediterraneo" organised by the opposition to the PHN will start from Ebro, Jucar and Segura basins and Rhone basin to arrive at the Ramsar Convention in Valencia (Spain) from 10.30. to 11.23.02. (fr/sp).
08.08.02 : Meeting on the Rhone river transfert to Barcelona, on the 28 september 02 in Girona, Spain. (french and spanish).
24.08.02 : Objections against conection water nets between Tarragona y Ter-Llobregat : text available.
24.08.02 : The walk of the "Water Pilgrims" from Spain to Brussels on september : Programm and registration.

: Universitary essay about impacts reduction of the Ebro river transfert (english), by Valérie Lacroix/F.U.Bruxels.
29.07.02 : the TRASAGUA Spanish state company, charged to realise the Ebro transfert, gave his report.(french).
29.07.02 : The Spanish Environment Ministery sent his answer to the European Commision about the NHP.(french)
. : Spanish press resume about Catalan delegation's visit to the BRL Cie at Nîmes on the 18th July. (french).
: Is the Water Transfer Project from the Rhone Delta to Barcelona back ? (fr and spanish).
NGOs Protest against the visite of the Number Two of the Catalan Party in France (Nîmes)
: Day of action and information about NHP in the Barcelona Contemporain Cultural Center.

01.07.02 : the Spanish Supreme Court cancels the expropriation decided by the Ministers Council in 1998 of lands needed for filling the Santaliestra dam (Spanish Pyrennees).
21.02.06 :at the hearing of the Petitions Committee, the Greens call for a parliamentary delegation being sent to Spain to investigate the effects of the PHN on the environment.
19.06.02 : the European Parliament's Petitions Committee discuss 10 petitions on the PHN on Wednesday June 19 at 4 PM.
17.06.02 : Itoiz dam gets the green light after all.
05.06.02 : Questions sent by the European Commission to the Spanish Government about the NHP on the 23rd May 02. (Integral text in engl /french /spanish on demand).
28.05.02: Spanish National Hydrological Plan : Informal meeting with Commissioner Barnier

27.05.02: EU delays decision to fund Spanish water plan
: The Blue March in Majorca island and the Demonstration in Palma ( 8 to 10 000 persons).
Press photos and resume in french and in spanish.

15.05.02: A new Blue Marche and a Demonstration against P.H.N., in the Majorca Island during the European Summit of Environment Ministers, from 24 to 26 May 2002.
23.04.02: Spanish supreme court deals blow to Itoiz dam
: Barcelona: 400-500'000 against the spanish National Hydrological Plan
08.03.02: Spanish water transfer plan "finalised"
24.02.02: The EP Environment Committee approves the am. against the PHN.
18.02.02: New demonstrations against the NHP.
15.02.02: Call for demonstration against PHN : 17 February there will be a demonstration (about 20,000) in the Delta, starting in the Town Hall of Deltebre at 11.00am.
12.02.02: Analysis of the environnemental assessment document presented to the European Parliament by the Spanish government. A document of the New Water Culture Foundation. (In english - available in spanish on request - PDF format)
30.01.02: March 10 : Important demonstration for a new water culture and against the Spanish National Hydrological Plan in Barcelona
24.01.02: Spanish Presidency's contradictory environmental plans ! (Pressrelease The Greens/European Free
Alliance in the European Parliament)
24.01.02: Spain's environment ministry published an environmental assessment of the country's controversial national hydrological plan
24.01.02: Spain notifies EU of controversial water plan
15.11.01: European Parliament passes an important amendment against the Spanish Hydrological Plan
11.09.01: The Blue Marche brings its claims to the European Union in Brussels
21.06.01: Spanish parliament passes controversial water law
25.02.01 : Thousands march to protest the national hydraulic plan
17.02.01 : Spanish government approves controversial water plan
14.12.00 : European Commission insists on "Environmental Analysis" of Spanish National Hydrological Plan.

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