WWF: Spanish government's figures and data on National Hydrological Plan's Ebro Transfer benefits are wrong and misleading | WWF

WWF: Spanish government's figures and data on National Hydrological Plan's Ebro Transfer benefits are wrong and misleading

Posted on 18 October 2002
Brussels, Belgium - 3.5 billion Euros could be lost if the Spanish National Hydrological Plan's (SNHP) Ebro river transfer is allowed to go ahead, according to a new report released by WWF, the conservation organisation today. The WWF study - Analysis and Economic Valuation of the Ebro river transfer in the Spanish National Hydrological Plan – shows data and figures used by the Spanish government to justify the SNHP to be inaccurate, and concludes that the actual costs of the Plan far outweigh the estimated profits. The SNHP's Ebro river transfer is proposed to reallocate 1,050 cubic hectometres per year of water from the Ebro River basin to another four river basins in the north, south-east and south of Spain. The overall cost of the construction of the infrastructure of the overall Plan across Spain has been estimated at 24 billion Euro (one third of which will be paid by EU funds), of which the Ebro river transfer will be 4.2 billion Euro. But to form a realistic picture of the costs and possible benefits of the Ebro river transfer, additional economic factors must be considered, but to date have not been. The cost of transporting water, desalinisation, and the potential effects of climate change must all be taken into account. Considering specifically the economic efficiency and return on investment of irrigation in the transfer recipient regions, WWF data shows that even in the high revenue intensively cultivated areas, over production of crops and growing agricultural competition in the Mediterranean region will greatly reduce profits and benefits in the future. The WWF report shows that once these factors have all been calculated, it is impossible to arrive at a positive cost benefit figure for the SNHP, and the 3.5 billion Euro loss calculated by WWF is a conservative figure. WWF also questions the methodology and criteria used in the justification of the Plan, and has shown that in the calculations of benefits to both the donor and recipient regions of the water transfer, data has been misrepresented in terms of wealth and income potential. “The figures in the WWF report only serve to add more fuel to the fire against the SNHP. The gap between the poor donor northern regions and the wealthier southern recipient regions will only broaden if the transfer is allowed to go ahead. It is time the European Commission stopped months of indecision and came to a consensus on how to proceed with the SNHP, taking into account not only the negative cost versus benefits of the plan, but also the environmental and cultural damage which the plan will cause across Spain” said Paloma Agrasot, WWF SNHP Initiative Co-ordinator. “To date there have been no concrete steps by the Commission to resolve the SNHP issue, and this could potentially lead to the setting of some dangerous precedents for unsustainable water management in Europe in the future.” WWF believes with the evidence stacking up against the sustainability and cost effectiveness of the SNHP, it is time for the Commission to fully play its role as Guardians of the European Treaty and prevent irreversible environmental and cultural damage. For further information, photos, video material or interest in press trips contact: Tania Paschen, Communications Manager, WWF European Freshwater Programme, mobile: +33 680 73 70 33, email: t.paschen@tourduvalat.org Angelina Hermanns, Press Officer, WWF European Policy Office, tel +32 2 740 09 25, email: Ahermanns@wwfepo.org