A Grimsby-based firm is digging a trench in the Port of Soller, for the laying of a water pipeline.
Humber Work Boats Ltd has more than 30 years experience of specialist marine and dredging contracting, operating from a purpose-built waterside facility at North Killingholme, on the south bank of the River Humber.
The boat is excavating a ditch along the sea bed for a pipeline which will carry fresh water from Sa Costera to Palma.
At present, the fresh water from the Sa Costera fountain cascades down into the sea and is lost.
Visitors to the picturesque port are more used to looking at the fleet of fishing boats and yachts, but they have been taking the presence of the huge dredger in their stride.
Locals, however, have been vociferous in their complaints, and the tourist sector has criticised the authorities for starting work now, at the beginning of the season, but the Mayor said there was little he could do about it, adding that the boat will not be in the port for very long.
Joan Crespí, the director general of hydraulic resources, said that the ditch which is being excavated in the port will be about 800 metres long at a depth of 18 metres, the operative limit of the boat.
He added that it will be working in the port 22 hours a day, for the next ten to 12 days. The two hours in which it is not operative are for maintenance.
When it has finished in the port, the boat will go to the coast off Sa Costera, where it will work for six to seven days.
There it will excavate a ditch of about 300 metres, again at a depth of 18 metres.
While the boat is in port, divers are at work off Sa Costera, breaking up rocks to make the digging of the trench easier.
Mortars are being used to break up the rocks on the sea bed, to make their removal easier.
Crespí estimated that the ditch will have been excavated within three weeks, however the boat which will lay the pipes will not arrive until spring next year, when any sediments will have to be removed.
The entire pipeline between Sa Costera and the Port of Soller will be nine kilometres long and should be completed within 24 months.
The Museum of Natural Sciences of Soller is collaborating by analysing the effects of the work, taking samples of the water from the Sa Costera fountain and neighbouring water courses and controlling the impact on the flora.
Majorca has just recovered from a period of drought, but after a couple of years of heavy rains, meteorologists say we are now about to enter into a new drought.
However, the authorities confirm that there are sufficient reserves for the next two years, by which time the water from Sa Costera will have been added to supplies.
Crespi, however, warned that although prospects are good, water should not be wasted. Water is a scarce commodity, he said, and we should cultivate a saving culture. The chief source of water in Majorca has been the underground tables or aquifers for the past 20 years, in addition to the Cuber and Gorg Blau reservoirs.
Crespí said that thanks to the heavy rains of the past few years, and good management, levels can be maintained to those of the early 1990s.
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