The Environment Minister Jaume Matas yesterday told the Balearic government that Madrid is prepared to invest 15'000 million pesetas in the construction of four permanent desalination plants in Majorca and in the expansion of the region's existing two plants with the aim of solving the region's water problem once and for all. Former Balearic Chief Minister Jaume Matas was in Palma yesterday for talks with local Environment Minister Margalida Rosselló who in turn agreed to study Matas's proposal while stressing that the water crisis is the biggest problem facing the Balearics at the moment. Matas said that one of his immediate aims is to ensure that the Balearics receives the funding it needs from central government and Madrid is prepared to provide as much as 20'000 million pesetas in order to help resolve the water problem. The Ministry is prepared to finance the construction of a second desalination plant in the Bay of Palma, one in the north of the island to supply Alcudia, Muro and Santa Margalida, a third on the south coast of Minorca near Ciutadella and a fourth in Ibiza. However, the ambitious project cannot go ahead until the Balearic Water Plan is approved and that has been on the table since June 13 last year. While Rosselló welcomed Matas' and Madrid's commitment to solving the water crisis, she said that no time scale has been provided as to when the money will be forthcoming from Madrid and as to when work on constructing and expanding the desalination plants will start.

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