THE Balearic environment ministry has doubled the budget this year for clearing the torrents (water courses) across the Balearics. Jaume Font, head of the department, explained that this is part of an urgent plan which aims to avoid possible flooding that may be caused by heavy rainfall forecast for the end of the summer. Accompanied by the director general of water resources, Joan Crespí, Font commented that the urgent clean-up programme of the channels, that have a higher than normal risk of overflow, is dependent on funding to the tune of some 781'313 euros, exactly the same quantity that the previous government set aside for the whole of the year 2003 and which was branded insufficient. The head of Environment said that the urgent clean-up will be carried out on torrents in 48 municipalities on the Islands where the state of upkeep of the water courses can be described as very poor. It will be the second operation of its kind this year, the first having been completed during the first three months of 2003. Font explained that the work of cleaning the channels consists of taking out all the rubbish and vegetation that chokes the interior so that water can flow freely along its length. The project will begin within two weeks, will need between two or three weeks to complete and will be carried out by five companies to whom contracts were awarded by the previous government. The Environment head went on to confirm that within this plan, the technical services staff of the ministry were to give priority to those torrents in the worst state of upkeep and where overflow would cause the most danger, such as channels that were close to major crossroads or town centres. He pointed out that if we had more money, we could include torrents of second degree risk in the urgent clean-up programme.