THE Spanish Ministry for the Environment announced yesterday that by the end of 2008 it will have tripled the volume of water put out by desalination plants in comparison with April 2004. The announcement was made at the inauguration of the Congress on this subject organised in Palma. The Ministry said it considered the criticisms of this system “unjustified”. The Auditorium in Palma yesterday hosted the inauguration of the 6th Congress of the Spanish Association for Desalination and Recycling (Aedyr). The Congress will run until tomorrow and has 250 participants. Among these participants are representatives of countries south of the United States, who are considering the option of desalinisation.
During his speech, the Secretary General for Land and Biodiversity, from the Ministry for the Environment, Antonio Serrano, said that the Spanish Government is investing in desalinisation to combat the scarcity of water. Proof of this, he said, is that the volume of desalinated water has already doubled since April 2004, going from 220 cubic hectometres per year then to 400 currently, a figure which will rise to 600 cubic hectometres within two years. Serrano said that, in his opinion, it is extremely important to find solutions to the lack of water at this time, as Spain has just experienced the “worst drought” in its history, a situation which will possibly be repeated within a few years, between 2011 and 2015. On the other hand, he said that one of the “challenges” of desalinisation is reducing the cost of production which, in the first plants in operation, was 0.90 euros per cubic metre. This has now been reduced to 0.40, a price which the Ministry expects to bring down by 20 or 30 percent in the next few years.
For his part, the President of the Spanish Association for Desalinisation and Recycling, Jose Antonio Medina, yesterday described as “unjustified” the criticisms of the desalination plants by certain environmental groups. He admitted that the desalination industry “could contaminate something”, but not “as much as some people say” and, in any case, it pollutes much less that other activities. According to this expert, the measures which need to be adopted in the new plants to “silence” these critics, together with the rise in the cost of materials due to the rise in the price of crude oil are some of the factors making this system more expensive. However, he said, the system is becoming “more and more widely accepted”. Serrano expressed his disagreement with this vision and said that the cost of these plants have risen to guarantee the respect for the environment, but admitted that “waste from desalination plants affects the algae in the Poseidon beds, an element which is protected”. The Balearic Minister, for his part, highlighted the advantages of desalinisation but said he considered that this system should always be accompanied by a “water saving policy”, and added that the four new plants planned for the Balearics will increase the volume of desalinated water from the existing 100'000 cubic metres per day to 153'000 by the end of 2008. Also speaking at the inauguration was Palma's deputy mayor, Catalina Terrassa, who also said she valued the role played by desalinisation as a means of obtaining more water.


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