Attention has well and truly been turned on water-treatment plants, partly because of the ongoing issues with spills at Palma beaches and also because of the fact that of the 98 plants in the Balearics, 26 of them have pipe outflows in the sea. A further reason for the attention is the apparent obsolescence of certain plants - some are forty years old - and their lack of capacity.
The environment minister Vicenç Vidal is at pains to point out that in 2017 there was plant investment of 57.2 million euros. He contrasts this with a figure of 36.7 million that was spent in 2013 by the former Partido Popular administration - an increase of 56% therefore.
The funding for treatment plants comes principally from the so-called sanitation tax applied to water bills. There has also been some funding from tourist tax revenue. The sanitation tax brought in around 80 million euros last year, so almost three-quarters of the revenue went towards plant investment. The government has set out a new decree for the tax, which Vidal says will result in improved maintenance and greater quality of treated water.
The government's Abaqua agency manages 80 of the 96 plants. The others are operated by town halls, Palma being one of them. Under the new decree, investment in all of the plants will be determined by the department for water resources. Decisions will take account of cost-benefit, environmental and planning criteria, with environmental legislation compliance an absolute priority.