WATER consumption per head in southern European countries is seven times higher than it was 100 years ago, due to an increase in personal hygiene, gardens, tourism, golf courses and water-intensive farming. This was revealed in Palma yesterday by Balearic University professors Hipólito Medrano and Jaume Flexas, who were presenting a congress on the best use of water for Mediterranean plants, which will be held in Cala Bona from March 24 to 28. It will be attended by 120 specialists from 22 countries and has been organised by the Applied Biology Society of the United Kingdom and a research group from the Balearic University. Medrano and Flexas said yesterday that there were ten countries in the Mediterranean where water is scarce, and the rate of “usable water“ in this area is the lowest in the world. This is attributed to the shortage and uncertainty of rainfall and the professors warned that, according to predictions on climate change, current rainfall in the Mediterranean could be reduced by 15 per cent over the next 15 years. Another reason for the shortage of water is the “enormous” increase in population in countries in the southern part of the Mediterranean, which have a high birth rate. Medrano said that flora absorbs between 50 and 80 per cent of available water according to the area, and stressed the need to study the best ways of using the water. Flexas proposed genetic engineering of flora to achieve a more efficient use of water. Other recommendations include using garden plants which need less water.


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