IN a little under three months, the coastal waterfall at Es Costera in the district of Escorca on Majorca will be captured and channelled along 30 kilometres of piping to supply locations in different parts of the Island.

In the most complex hydraulic project the region has ever seen, eight pumps with a total power of 10'000 horsepower, will begin to move nearly two cubic metres of water per second. For two decades the proposed undertaking has been “backwards and forwards” through planning negotiations, a maize of beaucracy and contractual difficulties. But now only two “details” need to be finalised before the project can actually be categorised as finished: the construction of the Alfabia water holding tank and about 100 metres of piping, subcontracts which had been put on hold due to expropriation difficulties. However, Water Resources director, Isidre Cañellas, confirmed yesterday that the works are ready and that no more delays are forecast.

In 1992, the project was declared “urgent”. It wasn't until ten years later that the programme finally started in earnest. At first, the works were due to be completed within two years with February of 2006 being a completion timeframe. One year later, the central government Environment ministry ordered that the scheme be put on hold for another twelve months and that the budget for the building of the hydraulic system be increased by 20 percent.

Apart from administrative wrangling, there were enormous physical challenges such as how to put nine kilometers of piping under the sea and the need to make the electricity supply in the Soller valley four times more powerful to operate the pumping station, all of which pushed up the estimate for the works from 65 to 77 million.

Although central government took initial financial responsibility for getting the project up and running, the Balearic government is to fund post-finalisation operations and maintenance.

The 9'000 metres of piping will channel water from the cascade in Escorca down to the port of Soller. From there, the most complicated phase will take the water across the Tramuntana mountains to various holding tanks.