Vol.2, No.4, 518-525 (2011)
opyright © 2011 SciRes. Openly accessible at http://www.scirp.org/journal/AS/
Agricultural Scienc es
Justification of public investment initiatives on water
transfer systems as an instrument for water balances
in Spain: the case of the Júcar-Vinalopó water transfer
Martin Sevilla*, Teresa Torregrosa*
Applied Economic Depart me n t, Water Institute, University of Alicante, Alicante, Spain;
*Corresponding Aut hor: martin.sevilla@ua.es, teresa.torregrosa@ua.es
Received 5 September 2011; revised 16 October 2011; accepted 23 October 2011.
One of the most controversial issues in recent
years in water management has been finding a
balance between available resources and water
needs related to certain territories. The changes
brought about by a new awareness over the
need to preserve the environment, the social
perception of the ownership of the river chan-
nels, the need for adjust financial costs arising
from the waterworks and the compliance with
European standards urgently require redesign
of water supply policies in force at this time. The
Júcar-Vinalopó water transfer, considered as an
historic aspiration for many years in the region,
has been regarded as a key element for solving
the depletion of groundwater in a large area lo-
cated in the southeast of the Iberian Peninsula,
mainly for irrigation purposes. In this paper we
present an approach to the economic aspects
related to the implementation of the project, its
investment and financing arrangements and the
question of the subsequent management with
the impact of the well-known “recovery cost
principle”, highlighting the current difficulties in
carrying out projects of this size, due to severe
limitations, as social and economic conditions
of the transfer.
Keywords: Water Transfer; Cost Recovery;
Groundwater; Water Cos t
Unlike what happens in other neighboring countries
like the United Kingdom [1] or even the OECD’s re-
commendations for additional capital investments on
into the urban infrastructures by institutional investors
[2], in Spain, public investment on water infrastructures
such as water transfers remains essential.
Throughout history there has been a constant desire to
provide the Vinalopó river basin in the south of the prov-
ince of Alicante with external water supplies, matched
by an equal desire to design initiatives to achieve this.
The Júcar-Vinalopó water transfer, considered as an his-
toric aspiration for many years in the region, has been
regarded as a key element for solving the depletion of
groundwater in a large area located in the southeast of
the Iberian Peninsula. From an institutional and territo-
rial point of view, these demands have largely been con-
centrated in the coastal areas, especially in the municipal
area of Elche, although more recently Alicante has also
started to request resources.
The beginning of the 20th century saw firstly the
transfer of sign ifican t vo lu mes o f water to the coast, o rig i-
nating in the aquifers of the Villena area, and secondly,
an increase in water transferred from the mouth of the
River Segura by the irrigation companies of the area; El
Porvenir, El Progreso and Riegos de Levante S.A.
The gradual drying out of the River Segura prompted
the first projects related to the Tajo-Segura Water Trans-
fer System1 at the end of the 1960s. Also at this time the
towns of Alicante and Elche joined the Mancomunidad
de Canales del Taibilla (MCT)2 (District Association of
the Canales del Taibilla) in order to address the drinking
1The Tajo-Segura water transfer system, one of the largest in Spain,
was initially designed to transport up to 600 Hm3 per year from the
centre to the south-east of the country, although only on one occasion,
the water year of 2000/2001, was this maximum volume of water
transferred. The General Preliminary Project of exploiting the Tajo-
Segura contemplated a maximum volume of 600 Hm3 per year “and i
has been commented that in a second phase, a further 400 Hm3may be
2The Mancomunidad de Canales del Taibilla (hereafter MCT) created
in 1927, is a public body responsible for the high-level network supply
to several towns in South-East Spain [3].
M. Sevilla et al. / Agricultural Sciences 2 (2011) 518-525
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water needs of a continuously growing population. Both
circumstances relaxed the demands on the volumes
originating in the Upper Vinalopó area for many years,
and it was even sugg ested that the waters from the Tajo-
Segura could alleviate the pressure on the aquifers of
Vinalopó, contributing to balancing out the system.
However, the supplies from the Tajo-Segura were un-
stable (experiencing restrictions in supplies and irriga-
tion for some years), the costs of extracting resources
from the Vinalopó aquifers were lower than the rates
applied by the MCT and there was a gradual increase in
the extractions from the Vinalopó to be used for the ex-
tended irrigated land in the Upper and Middle areas of
the Vinalopó. All of these factors gave rise to the re-
emergence of the historical demands, this time, from the
inland towns of the area of the Vinalopó.
Do water transfer systems make sense from an eco-
nomic point of view? Does the Júcar-Vinalopó Transfer
System (JVT) make sense? What are the reasons that
justify undertaking works of this size? If the existing
literature agrees on anything in this field it is the dis-
crepancy in both the alternatives to the problems raised
and in the solutions.
This type of infrastructure is not new in Spain (the
Tajo-Segura water transfer system, the largest in Spain,
has been op er ating fo r mor e th an 30 years), neith er is the
debate in terms of its appropriateness and whether it
should be publicly financed [4]. Some authors provide
support for the hypothesis that private infrastructure
owners operate more efficiently than public ones [5].
In general terms, the public decisions regarding the
creation of water transfer systems attempt to address the
structural problems of receiving basins, where structural
water problems are understood as those where ordinary
needs and their provisions exceed current and forecast
resources. Although this concept seems simple as a gen-
eral criterion, contemplating it in Spain, where the dis-
tinction between a dry and wet Spain implies more than
one variable, and where prices applied to water far from
acknowledge the water scarcity indexes in each case,
makes it a highly complex task.
But this question is not so far removed from the issue
of costs and prices applied to the use of water. Can the
crops in the receiving areas assume all the costs incurred
by transferring water from one territory to another? If we
only contemplate this variable (and set aside other issues
such as environmental costs or the repercussions on ar-
eas from where the water originates)—to what extend
should the construction costs of the Transfer System be
subsidised with public funds?
Although the issues surrounding the need to supply
the Vinalopó basin with external sources have been on-
going for some time, as previously mentioned, the con-
servation of the new areas transformed into irrigated
land in the area since the 1960s is one of the key argu-
ments for justifying the transfer pro ject.
Nevertheless, while the problem of water resources
imbalance and the overexploitation of the Vinalopó basin
has predominantly been caused by private enterprises,
although strongly p romoted by p ublic in itiativ e [6,7 ], the
solution to the p roblems basically lie in the hands of the
public sector. Although this public involvement has not
been a determining factor in the medium and long-term
unsustainability of these systems3, it has been incapable
of implementing limiting measures.
The fundamental milestone in th e recent history of the
Júcar-Vinalopó water transfer system was the Júcar Ba-
sin Plan in 1998 which not only sought to resolve the
Vinalopó problem but also included the neighbouring
area of Marina Baja as a water receiving area.
It should be taken into account that the authorities of
the Marina Baja area responded to their own problem
independently of the possible solution derived from the
provision of external supplies from the Júcar. As already
demonstrated [7,9], the action taken by the Consorcio de
Aguas de la Marina Baja (CAMB) in the integrated
management of all of its water resources has ensured
that no external water resources are requ ired to cover its
needs4. However, the same does not apply to the Vi-
nalopó basin. Neither the new organisations of users, nor
the combining of uses has reduced the demand for ex-
ternal supplies. The State has also expressed its com-
mitment to constructing the system, basically because it
3Neither the IGME [8] (Spanish Geological and Mining Institute)
Reports during the 1970s that raised the need to adjust the uses to
renewable resources of the water resource system of Vinalopó, nor the
new Water Law of 1985, or the declarations regarding some overex-
loited aquifers forming part of this system (Sierra de Crevillente y
Jumilla-Vilena) led tothe incorporation of measures to resolve the
roblems, and are still not being dev eloped today, 201 1.
4A centralised management of the different resources and an internal
compensations system between all the users has enabled the problems
to be resolved with relatively low costs compared to those incurred by
transferring external supplies. In practice, although there is still a
demand for external resources, this demand corresponds to a safety
margin to cover water needs in an extraordinary situation. It is for this
ose that external water is demanded, not for ordinar
water needs.
M. Sevilla et al. / Agricultural Sciences 2 (2011) 518-525
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considers it to be essential for so lving the problem of the
overexploitation of the Vinalopó aquifers and partly be-
cause it fulfills the directives of the Júcar Basin Plan of
There are no common norms in terms of the financing
of investments or the setting of rates to cover the oper-
ating expenses incurred in constructing the different hy-
drological infrastructure works in Spain. Therefore, on
what parameters should the economic system be based in
order to make the works feasible and sustainable in the
long term? We will consider two asp ects: the investment
and operating expenses of the system and the payment
capacity of users.
These terms are associated with the concept of “cost
recovery” since the transposition of the European Water
Framework Directive into Spanish legislation in 2003.
However, its application in Spain has been irregular and
vague. As different exceptions and interpretations of the
law are used, a single criterion cannot be applied by the
Spanish public authorities with respect to water re-
sources so as to recover the cost of these operations.
Different percentages of financing are distributed among
users and author ities in a different way for each use with
no known objective justifications other than the discre-
tional power of the acting au thority.
The action taken by Sociedad Aguas del Júcar S.A.
(Table 1), the instrumental company that has carried out
the construction works of the JVT, shows the extent to
which different criteria are adopted for different actions,
with no valid behavioural model for all types of action.
The inclusion of the Júcar Vinalopó Water Transfer
Project in the Operational Programme for Valencia
2000-2006 [10] gave rise to the granting of European
finance (ERDF Funds) for its construction, which re-
duced the costs attributable to the Central Government,
with the level of private participation in applying this
principle of cost recovery still to be determined. The
Generalitat Valenciana (Regional Government of Valen-
cia) also committed to carrying out the works of the
Postrasvase (post transfer works), essential for the dis-
tribution of water between all users, although without
contemplating the participation of users in the financing
or maintenance of this infrastructure, so the cost recov-
ery principal in this case disappears with no explanation.
As in many other cases of public intervention in the
economy, modifying the intake location of the Júcar-
Vinalopó Transfer System from “Cortes de Pallás” to
“Azud de la Marquesa” was not due to economic and
financial reasons. Therefore, this alteration in the project
did not rigorously contemplate the increase in invest-
ments that the new route required or the new operating
expenses models of the system to maintain its sustain-
The General Election of March 2004 and the subse-
quent change in government gave rise to a change in
water policy in Spain, including the reconsideration of
the transfer systems, even though the public works con-
tracts for the different sections of the piping of the Júcar
Vinalopó from “Cortes de Pallás” location to Villena had
already been awarded to the corresponding contractors.
From the outset, the new government considered the
modification of the National Hydrological Plan by eli-
minating the Ebro Tr ansfer System and creating the new
Water Programme through which it sought to satisfy the
water demands principally in the Segura and Júcar ba-
sins by way of desalinating sea water and promoting
reuse and making improvements in the management of
hydrologic al resources.
The issue of the Júcar-Vinalopó Transfer became cen-
tral to the debate in terms environmental questions and
issues raised by user and irrigation organisations of the
latter sections of the Júcar basin, which, until then had
not been taken into account, together with the need to
adopt the ruling of the Supreme Court of 2004 which
modified the Júcar Basin Plan.
Table 1. Investments made by Aguas del Júcar S.A. (millions of €).
Users Contributions AJS.A. Contributions European Funding Total %
infrastructure/financing Mill € % Mill € % Mill € % Mill € %
Júcar Vinalopó Water Trans fer 6960 3000 7650 3300 8580 3700 23200 100
Water supply system to Albacete 440 1500 2460 8500 2900 100
Marina Baja Pipes 190 2500 560 7500 750 100
Camp de Turia Irrigation Pipe 1500 5000 1500 5000 3000 100
M. Sevilla et al. / Agricultural Sciences 2 (2011) 518-525
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The change in intake location also generated conflict
with the Junta Central and altered the whole financing
model which had been agreed with this organisation
through the 200 1 Agreement on 28/2/2005, which estab-
1) The Syndicated Loan will not be awarded to cover
the part corresponding to the users for the construction
works of the Júcar-Vinalopó Transfer until the adminis-
trative and legal controversies regarding the availability
of water to transfer from the Júcar that justifies the pro-
ject are resolved. The forecast annual transferred vol-
umes and their use (irrigation and supply) should be
maintained at the levels stipulated in the Júcar Basin
Plan and in the Agreement sign ed with AJSA on 13 July
2001. The content of the ruling (…) passed by the Su-
preme Courte on 20-10-2004 (…) advises that the syn-
dicated loans should not be granted until the availability
of the water resources for the Júcar-Vinalopó Transfer
has been guaranteed through the corresponding legal
2) To urge the modification of the Agreement signed
with Aguas del Júcar S.A. so that the agreed contributio n
of the users is produ ced through pricing the water that is
effectively received.
This new situation led the Ministry to modify the
“Direct management agreement with respect to the con-
struction and/or operation of hydrological works be-
tween MIMAM-Aguas del Júcar SA”. Modification No.
1 of March 2006, changed the financing system of the
works, which from that moment and at the expense of
the new contributions of the ERDF funds from the EU
were distributed as follows: 26.4% with EDRF Funds
(€80 million); 24.7% (€75 million, the same amount as
in the preceding agreement) would be financed by Aguas
del Júcar through a loan operation passed onto the users
during the operation of the transfer through prices; and
48.9% of the cost of the activity (€148 million) would be
financed throug h funds coming from the share capital of
Aguas del Júca r.
The EC took the Decision on the 12/12/2006 to mod-
ify both its final contribution to the “Júcar-Vinalopó
Transfer” which increased to €120,121,000 (50% of the
total subsidisable cost), and the corresponding condi-
tions, which were extend ed basically to ensure the effec-
tive improvement of the aquifer recovery in Vinalopó
and the eastern part of Castilla-la Mancha, the resources
supplied to the Júcar, the situation of Albufera and the
savings in the traditional irrigated areas of the Júcar. It
also proposed the creation of a technical monitoring
group, dependent on the Monitoring Committee for the
Operating Programme of the Region of Valencia [10],
composed of representatives from the government, users,
NPO and the Commission, in order to determine the
degree of compliance with clauses of the Decision.
The greater participation from the EDRF funds re-
duced the contribution of Aguas del Júcar, which now
amounted to €108 million. Also at that time the company
calculated the operating expenses according to the fol-
lowing table, which show that the repercussion of the
transferred water costs with average transferrable vol-
umes of 70 Hm3 was €0.196/m3.
This calculation of costs transferred to the users is
possibly one of the key elements in the ensuing discus-
sions which have taken place in public debate. The most
critical opponents of t he change in intake locati on claimed
that these calculations were unreal, especially those cor-
responding to energy costs, because with the new intake
there are parts above sea level that must be overcome in
order to carry the water from “Azud de la Marquesa” to
the “San Diego” reservoir in Villena.
As the change in intake location to “Azud de la Mar-
quesa” was rejected by the Junta Central, this organisa-
tion did not sign the new Agreement necessary for set-
ting the new project into operation, which could lead to
the absurd situation of carrying out infrastructure works
that did not have any final users. During this period,
Aguas del Júcar S.A. tried to sign individual contracts
with final users of the water in order to ensure the exis-
tence of a demand for these resources, although only a
few of them (including the Town Council of Elch e or the
Main Irrigation Channel of the Elche Reservoir, which
are not represented by the Junta Central) signed these
The final solution to th is dilemma was sought through
the signing in January 2007 of an Agreement between
the Júcar Hydrological Confederation (CHJ) and Aguas
del Júcar S.A. which includes in its explanatory pream-
ble: “That to facilitate the investment recovery of this
project, the CHJ, as the competent body responsible for
the management of the hydrological resources of the
Basin which it administrates does not oppose to being
the intermediary between Aguas del Júcar S.A. and the
final holders of the rights to use the transferred water, or
the final users of the afore-mentioned project” [11-13].
In this way it is the CHJ who is obliged to assume the
operating and conservation costs of the project, which
subsequently recovers these expenses from the final us-
ers of the water.
We have already seen that the change in the water in-
take location of the Júcar altered the whole balance
M. Sevilla et al. / Agricultural Sciences 2 (2011) 518-525
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which had been so painstakingly configured by the users
of Vinalopó. It was not only a question of the different
investment and operating costs derived from the new
route (higher than the initial route). The final users were
also altered, as the new model excluded the users of the
water supply, eliminating the possibility of cross subsi-
dies which would have financed the waters used for irri-
gation through the higher prices applied to water sup-
plies. Although the former type of users would receive
larger volumes of water, they would be at higher prices
than in the initial project. That argument together with
water prices that are many times set by water managers
and, in some cases like the one we present here, politi-
cians, the effectiveness of water prices as an instrument
to rationalise water consumption is more than doubtful
Furthermore, the new situation created the paradox
whereby when water from the transfer was received for
irrigation, resources would no longer be extracted from
the Vinalopó aquifers, which would now be used for
supplying water to the towns which would not have to
finance works of the transfer project, even if this possi-
bility remained open5.
One of the issues relating to the Júcar-Vinalopó
Tranfser which is being tiptoed around is that referring
to the prices which are to be applied to the consumption
of the transferred water. This is not surprising, especially
as the economic questions relating to water have always
been characterised as being “less” important in almost
all the public projects related to water management6.
However, since the approval of the European Water
Directive of 2000 an d th e in corpo r ation of the concep t of
“cost recovery”, the panorama has partly changed. From
this moment, all the institutions were now required to
contemplate cost recovery in their budgets and if this
could not be done then the reasons should be appropri-
ately justified. However, what are these costs?
The EU Water Framework Directive distinguishes
between operating expenses, environmental costs and
resource costs. The first are defined as those costs re-
lated to extracting, piping and making water available to
users. Environmental costs are those related to the op-
erations necessary to ensure the conservation of envi-
ronmental conditions through processes such as water
treatment or aquifer recovery. However, in the case of
resource costs or the opportun ity costs of their use, there
is no consensus with respect to the meaning of this con-
cept [17].
Furthermore, the introduction of subsidies or privi-
leged financing in terms of the interest rates applied or
the repayment terms (in the case of the Júcar Vinalopó
Transfer, the repayment terms are 35 and 50 years, while
the repayment of th e capital prov id ed b y Aguas d el Júcar,
SA is interest-free), makes it difficult to set objective
criteria for the real efficiency of the projects and to de-
termine which costs should be taken into account to es-
tablish the final total prices.
In the case of the Júcar-Vinalopó Transfer Project
many of the previously-mentioned elements are present.
Both in the current project from “Azud de la Marquesa”
and in the previous one from “Cortes de Pallás”, the
economic restrictions have been regarded as a factor of
secondary importance, after the ultimate objective wh ich
was and is to transfer water to the Vinalopó Basin for its
subsequent distribution among users. We could sum up
by saying that the real costs of the Transfer and Post
Transfer infrastructure project and their operating ex-
penses are highly condition ed by the political restriction s
to which they are subject which means that the solutions
must also be political.
It is useful to bear this in mind when seeking an ex-
planation for the possible prices to apply and also to find
a solution which makes its functio ning feasible.
5.1. The Issue of Water Costs According to
Their Origin
We have previously mentioned the repayment and op-
erating rates of the JVT, contemplated in the 2007
Agreement between AJSA and the JHC. If we consider
this point as being independent from the functioning of
the whole system we run the risk that the Transfer will
not work at all. The explanation is simple: the rates
5Despite the legal difficulty in creating a new financing model which
contemplates the contributions of those users that indirectly benefit
from the improvement of the state of the Vinalopó aquifers (especially
the water supply users of the Vinalopó), the MIMAM included this
ossibility in the documentation submitted to the EC in 2005 in orde
to secure the financing of the project. As stated in the Supreme Court
Ruling of 10/12/2009, the grounds of the sixth point: “Precisely in the
rocedure processed by the Commission for the application of Com-
munity subsidies for the new route and to which the Decision refers, as
indicated by the State Lawyer in processing the conclusions, it has
always been stated that the objective of the Project is to palliate the
overexploitation of the aquifers and to correct the deficit of water sup-
lies, indicating that the great majority of the transferred resources will
e for agricultural use, although this does not mean that there may be
other beneficiaries. It was made clear to the EU’s Directorate. General
for Regional Policy, clarifying all doubts, that the arrival of the trans-
ferred waters would favour urban supply in the towns of the upper and
middle areas of the Vinalopó and the environmental regeneration of the
aquifers. Therefore, it was considered that the farmers who consumed
the transferred water through supply rates and the entities with rights
over the water as well as the users who continue to extract water from
the aquifers should parti c ip a te in the financing of the proj ect.”
6This comment is by no way unfounded. In the two reports sent to
Brussels by the MMAMRMin 2007 and 2009 [15,16], despite the
importance of this issue, the problem of rates or the prices of the water
extracted from the aquifers are hardly mentioned. Neither do these
reports analyse the question of how to resolve the compensations to the
entities which will have to close their wells and substitute their re-
sources with water from the Júcar-Vinalopó Transfer, desalinating
lants or the reused treated water.
M. Sevilla et al. / Agricultural Sciences 2 (2011) 518-525
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. http://www.scirp.org/journal/AS/
passed on to the agricultural users in some years may
reach 0.80 Euros per m3, including the repayment and
operating costs, a figure that is way above the price of
obtaining water through other methods and one which is
unacceptable for irrigation.
Openly accessible at
In the following Table 2 we have made an estimate of
these rates in accordance with the forecast of costs made
by AJSA in 2006 for a Transfer of 70 Hm3 (the operating
costs are at this year’s prices) and applying them to hy-
pothetical trans fers of between 10 and 50 Hm3.
The actual prices for this system may be higher than
the values obtained herein depending on variations in
actual costs.
5.2. The Implications of Reorganising Water
Extractions in the Vinalopó Basin
The Public Authorities responsible for water-related
issues have always taken into account that in developing
the Júcar-Vinalopó Transfer the transfer of resources
should imply a reduction in the pressur e on the Vinalopó
aquifers and, therefore, the closing of many wells in the
area. All of the reports and studies carried out in order to
obtain European Commission funds have observed this
question [15,16 ,18,19]
From a technical and hydrological point of view, the
overexploitation of the aquifers may only be resolved by
adapting extractions to replenishments, therefore, the
optimum operating level would be that which produces a
long-term equilibrium between the two. While some
studies explore the possibilities that replenishing the
aquifers would generate [8], this alternative would only
work in situ ation s when ther e was exce ss water an d with
the government assuming the costs of the whole opera-
In the two projects contemplated (“Cortes de Pallás”
and “Azud de la Marquesa”), the logic of the solution to
overexploitation is the same: to reduce the pressure on
the aquifers and increase their sustainability, although
the ways of doing this have changed considerably.
In the Transfer Project from “Cortes de Pallás”, the
water was to be used for both agriculture and urban sup-
ply (in the Vinalopó region, Alicante and the Marina
Baja area), whereby the water that was no longer ex-
tracted from the closed wells was substituted by that
from the Transfer at the prices agreed by the users and
AJSA in 20018. With respect to the Transfer Project from
“Azud de la Marquesa”, the extractions for urban con-
sumption are not replaced by the transferred waters as
their quality is inferior, with resources generated by the
desalinisation plants on the coast being used for this
purpose, particularly those of Mutxamel and Alicante I
and II. Although from a material point of view they may
be equivalent, their costs can vary considerably. Fur-
thermore, the negotiations for resolving these exchanges
involve several Central Government bodies9; namely the
CHJ and the Water Agency, ACUAMED and the MCT.
While the former are concerned with harmonising the
water rights of the users, the MCT are responsible for
providing alternative supplies and closing wells and es-
tablishing consumer prices.
According to the Rep orts issued by the European C o m-
mission, the plans for closing wells have changed (Table
As we can observe, the planned substitutions have
risen from 65 Hm3 for 2003 to 76.76 Hm3 for 2007 and
are calculated at 79.5 Hm3 for 2009. These changes have
not been explained in the ensuing reports.
Table 2. Costs transferred to the users of the Transfer.
70 Hm3 50 Hm3 30 Hm3 10 Hm3
Return of Investment (€/year) 3,490,000 3,490,000 3,490,000 3,490,000
Energy (€/año) 7,351,449 5,251,035 3,150,621 1,050,207
Turbine stations incomes (€/year) 711,030 507,875 304,725 101,575
Conservation and maintenance (€/year) 3,559,867 3,559,867 3,559,867 3,559,867
Total exploitation costs (€/year) 10,200,286 8,303,027 6,405,763 4,508,499
Total retroceded costs (€/year) 13,690,286 11,793,027 9,895,763 7,998,499
Retroceded Costs (Hm3/year) 0.20 0.23 0.33 0.80
7Although it may seem far removed from reality, this situation could arise if the possibilities of transferring water from the Júcar were higher than the
irrigation demands in the area. In this case, these studies would be useful to ascertain which aquifers could store this water which could be subse-
quently used. The issue of the costs (which in this case are double due to the Transfer rates and the cost of its construction) and quality would deter-
mine the feasibility of the operation.
8It should be noted t h a t t h e s e r a tes ar e out of d ate, although they are still used as a reference.
9Part of this problem has been eliminated with the integration of AJSA into ACUAMED in 2010.
M. Sevilla et al. / Agricultural Sciences 2 (2011) 518-525
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Table 3. Programmed well closures 2003-2007 in the Vinalopó-Alacantí System.
V inalopó Alacantí System.
Hydrogeologica l Unit s 2003 Replacement Proposal
(Hm3) 2007 Replacement Proposal
32. Sierra Grossa 0.32 0
33V Alm ansa 0 1.02
34. Sierra Oliva 0 0
35. Jumilla-Villena 15.00 20.64
36. Villena-Benejama 16.50 17.21
40. Sierra Mariola 1.35 2.83
41. Peñarrubia 4.50 2.59
42. Carche-Salinas 6.50 6.14
43. Argue ña-Maigmó 4.00 1.64
44. Barrancon e s-Carrasqueta 0.86 0.11
48. Orcheta 0 0
49. Agost-Monneg re 0.45 0.07
50. Sierra del Cid 1.00 1.65
51. Quibas 3.60 3.23
52. Crevillente 10.07 10.27
99. Impermeable 0.85 9.39
Total 65.00 76.76
Source: [19,20]
The 2009 Report [15] highlights the implications of
these substitutions for both agricultural uses and supply
uses with the latter reaching 27.8 Hm3. If we take into
account that the Transfer waters are not appropriate for
human consumption and therefore the towns of the Up-
per and Middle Vinalopó areas continue to extract un-
derground water for this use, practically all of the sub-
stitutions will corresp ond to what has b een called “water
exports” to the coast and especially to the wells of Aguas
Municipalizadas de Alicante, The Local Government of
Elche (through its contract with Finca Los Frutales) and
Sociedad Canal de la Huerta de Alicante S.A.
The change in costs produced by substituting the wa-
ter from the aquifers, whose prices vary between 0.20
and 0.30 €/m3, with those obtained through theses alter-
native supplies on the coast is considerable. With 2008
data, we have included the rates applied by the MCT,
which were 0.5446 €/m3 and the costs which the same
organisation estimates that the different desalinisation
plants that it manages, which in the case of Alicante
reached 0.70 €/m3.
The new situation will bring with it a considerable in-
crease in the prices charged to final users in the towns on
the coast, which are currently supplied, in part, by the
water from the Vinalopó aquifers. The case of Sociedad
Canal de la Huerta S.A. is special because its hydrologi-
cal resources should only be used for agricultural con-
According to this model, th e towns that would benefit
are those of the Upper and Middle areas of the Vinalopó,
because due to the lack of other alternatives they will
continue to be supplied by their wells, and at the same
time their water masses will improve with the reduction
in extractions of water for irrigation (which is substituted
for the transferred water) and the extractions used to
supply the coast will d isappear.
Without doubt, the implementation of the Júcar-Vi-
nalopó Transfer system will represent an historical mile-
stone in terms of water in the south of Alicante. The
transformation of the traditional aspirations of a specific
project has been surrounded in controversy, which is
evident in the decisions that have been taken in recent
years to this respect.
The issues relating to the appropriateness of one in-
take location or another in the Júcar will take second
place to the need to specify how its water is to be shared,
how the costs are to be distributed and how all the re-
sources and uses are to be organised in such a complex
hydrological system.
The new challenges that have arisen are also related to
the coordination of the different agents that operate in
this field and the need for them to be capable, with a
M. Sevilla et al. / Agricultural Sciences 2 (2011) 518-525
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. Openly accessible at http://www.scirp.org/journal/AS/
maximum level of responsibility, to obtain the highest
profitability from this project and share the profits and
the costs equally.
The final solution will not be easy, especially due to
the enormous politicization that the hydrological issues
in this region have acquired. However there is no doubt
that the questions related to the costs and prices that are
finally applied will be decisive for a possible solution.
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