Just leaking away

The local government is asking us to reduce our water consumption by 12 percent. Yet again we are facing a severe shortage and yes there isn't enough water to go around. This is our fifth year of drought. So why is it that most government offices, the airport and many other public buildings all have nice green laws which require thousands of litres of water to keep them lush. I would have thought that a rock garden would have been more suitable under the water circumstances. And also sprinklers are often directed to the wrong place and it is the pavement which gets a nice soaking while the grass is allowed to stand dry in the midday sun. The water situation in Majorca at the moment is outrageous. Every year the government announces a major water scheme “which should mean an end to the drought” and every summer restrictions have to be introduced. The central administration and the local government, who appear to be in direct competition over who is going to buy the most desalination plants, have spent a fortune. But it appears that most of this money has gone the same way as 20 percent of the island's water resources, it has simply leaked into the soil because of a badly fitting pipe network.

Jason Moore

Immigrants on holiday

While the Spanish and French tourist authorities count the millions arriving at their Mediterranean resorts in August, millions of others are leaving these two countries for their homes even further South. A trek by car is underway of some two million Algerians and Moroccans from the cities and fields of France and Spain to the port of Algeciras, from where they will cross the Straits of Gibraltar to their homes and families. This exodus - to be reversed before the end of August - is a graphic illustration of the extent to which France and Spain now rely on immigrants to carry out essential services in agriculture and construction. The numbers of people returning home, however briefly, are so great that the Spanish authorities have put up signs in Arabic, created car parks to hold the waiting cars and brought in the Red Cross and Red Crescent to help with the children and the sick. It is unclear how many of these travellers have legal documents; perhaps those “sin papeles” are counting on the sheer numbers of people involved to be able to get back without too much trouble. Meanwhile the number of those trying for the first time by more traditional illegal immigrant routes - by small boat across the Straits - continues to grow; the Guardia Civil has caught more than seven thousand this year already, two thousand more than last year. Elsewhere, it is estimated that three hundred people try to get to Britain by Eurostar train every night, despite intensive search deterrents. Sooner or later the legitimacy and the necessity - of this wave of humanity - will have to be recognised by the rich countries to which it is drawn.