The cliché that water causes wars has been disproved once again. The reality is that water is a great source of pacts. The Minister for Climate Action, Teresa Jordà, has initiated the commitment of Teresa Ribera, Minister for the Ecological Transition, that Catalonia obtain European funds, in this case in the form of “very advantageous” loans, to be able to make new investments in of hydraulic works to deal with water deficits in the river basins of this community. The principle of agreement was reached yesterday in Madrid. The Next Generation recovery funds were created to deal with the economic and social consequences of the pandemic, and incorporated several financial instruments, including repayable loans.

The Spanish Government already agreed three weeks ago to finance the construction of the new desalination plant in Blanes, declared a work of general interest, over the next few years, which will mean a state investment of 220 million euros. This infrastructure is considered one of the key works to improve the guarantee of supply in the Barcelona and Girona region.

The Generalitat made a positive assessment of the decision, but has continued to demand that the Administration finance new hydraulic infrastructures. The drought in the region of Barcelona and Girona affects six million people who suffer restrictions in all uses except domestic, the most essential.

The councilor asked the minister for “help” to finance the Foix (Cubelles) desalination plant and outlined the new pact. “We agreed that it would be convenient to reach an agreement in the coming days so that the funds that come from Europe in the form of loans can be used to include more investments in the water cycle”, he indicated. These loans have “very good conditions and would be very good for us to speed up these actions as much as possible”, he stressed.

From now on, a period of joint work will be opened between the General Directorate of Water of the Ministry and the Catalan Water Agency to specify this list of works that would be deserving of community loans. However, no amount has been determined yet.

After the desalination plant in Blanes (220 million) and the one in Floix in Cubelles (116 million euros), the major pending works are, among others, the increase in production capacity and improvement in the quality of treatment to the water treatment plant of Sant Joan Despí in Llobregat (107 million); improvements to the Ter water treatment plant in Cardedeu (89 million); the new surface water treatment plant in Besòs (83 million euros), perhaps in Barcelona; a new drinking water treatment plant for Besòs groundwater in Sant Adrià; or improvements in the reuse of regenerated water in Prat or Sant Feliu (26 million). All these works were approved in the water pact signed between the Government and the political parties.

Yesterday’s meeting also discussed the Perte of the digitalization of water in Catalonia. The Generalitat has presented projects totaling more than 120 million euros. Jordà assumes that not all the works would have state funding, but he defended that they are “well structured and territorialized” projects.

Minister Jordà once again called for the modernization of the Canal d’Urgell; Minister Ribera replied that this was a matter for the Ministry of Agriculture, although she spoke in favor of this modernization and the optimization of these resources. The Generalitat awaits the response from Agriculture. The proposal of the Catalan Executive is for the State to assume 40%.

The minister has also asked that the flow carried by the two large lateral irrigation channels of the Ebro delta be considered ecological flow of the river, as the Platform for the Defense of the Ebro claims, to protect not only the irrigation of the rice, but the whole Delta.

In this way, if the Confederation of the Ebro imposes water cuts (as it does now), it would be forced to respect the entire deltaic agricultural and ecological ecosystem. “The minister has told us yes!” says Jordà.