by Staff Reporter
A massive 23 per cent of the water in the Balearics is lost through leaky pipes, the second worst record in the country after Valencia, which loses 24.8 per cent.
The figures were revealed in a report by the National Institute of Statistics, published yesterday. The figures refer to 2004.
The figures for the Balearics are in stark contrast with Ceuta and Melilla, which lost only 5.3 per cent; Madrid (5.8 per cent), the Basque Country (9.1 per cent) and Navarre (13.5 per cent).
Jaume Font, the Balearic environment minister, has already announced the allocation of funds to locate the leaky pipes, working in collaboration with town councils, and has promised funding to repair the pipes once the leaks are detected.
People in the Balearics are also among those who pay most for their water.
The price (quotient between income from service provided and volume of water managed) works out at an average of 1.31 euros per cubic metre, beaten only by the Canary Islands at 1.64 euros and Murcia at 1.41 euros.
The Canary Islands have the highest price because of their dependency on desalation, used not only for domestic consumption but also for farming. Murcia's problem is a general shortage of water.
The state average is 0.96 euros cubic metre.
One of the reasons for the high price of water in the Balearics is the high level of sewage treatment (which is also included in the water rates) which is much higher than in other regions.
The Balearic government spends considerable amounts of money each year in maintaining the network of sewage farms, improving and expanding them, in order to ensure no sewage is pumped into the sea.
This is reflected in the qualilty of the beaches and the number of European Blue Flags of excellence awarded each year.
The Balearics is also the region with the biggest increase in average domestic consumption in 2004, at 9.2 per cent compared to the previous year.
This is on a par with Valencia and Extremadura, and compares badly with a State increase of 2.4 per cent.
But despite the increase, the Balearics have the second lowest average consumption of water at 142 litres per inhabitant per day.
This is only beaten by La Rioja at 141 litres, and is way below the Spanish average of 171 litres.
The region with the highest consumption was Andalucia with 189 litres per inhabitant per day.
According to the report, 53 per cent of the total amount of water controlled and distributed for public supplies in the Balearics is for domestic consumption (49.5 million cubic metres), while 41 per cent is for the economic sector (38 million cubic metres) and 4.5 per cent is for municipal consumption (3.2 per cent).
Although the level of water in the reservoirs is higher than it was at this time last year, and supplies are guaranteed for the summer, the authorities still recommend saving water.
Tips given by the authorities include taking a shower instead of a bath, turning off the tap when brushing your teeth, and not washing dishes under a running tap.
New desalination plants are also planned, despite opposition from the environmentalists, who say they consumer too much energy and are costly to run.


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