Forget oil theft, lets steal WATER
"Enough water to supply 58 million people is stolen from Spain's underground reserves each year, drying out already-parched land to feed the lucrative property, tourism and agricultural sectors, a report warned on Thursday.
The World Wildlife Fund said there was a hugely profitable black market in water extracted from around 510,000 illegal wells throughout Spain. Southern Spain is already one of the driest parts of Europe and according to the government, a third of the country is in danger of turning into a desert.
The report estimated that around 3,600 cubic hectometres of water are stolen each year -- only 25 percent less than the whole country uses legally. "
May 14th, 2006 5:09pm
barring total melt down of civilisation as we know it, water rights are going to be a big thing in the next decade or so. even here in New Zealand there are increasing legal battles between the different interest groups.....farmers/cities/individuals/river and lake users/ department of conservation and so on.
May 14th, 2006 5:14pm
Is purifying sea water really that hard? In a sunny place like spain, I should be possible to make a huge solar distiller.
May 14th, 2006 6:29pm
I reject the idea that it is 'theft' when someone drills a well on the property they own and uses that well to supply drinking water to their own family.
May 14th, 2006 6:54pm
of course its not.
calling it theft is inaccurate, but it *is* a problem if there isn't enough water to go around, and it does need to be solved.
May 14th, 2006 7:08pm
Much of the border jockeying around Israel concerns water resources.
Anywhere a river crosses a state boundary is a potential source of friction. USA/Mexico, China/Vietnam, Pakistan/India, Turkey/Syria, Queensland/NSW ... but determining subterranean aquifer boundaries and quantities is as hard as it is for oil.
Spain has a problem with conservation matters. Its fishing fleet is a global disgrace.
May 14th, 2006 7:44pm
Yeah, they keep on fishing in UK waters.
May 14th, 2006 8:07pm
We coerced Canada into a treaty requiring Canada to enforce/obey US water rights rules. We did that because we wanted to buy their water but we had to make sure we'd keep getting it. Our water rights rules are clunky old bits of legislation that essentially say "once you turn the pipe on, you can never turn it off."
End result: Canada bans water sales to the US.
May 14th, 2006 11:56pm
Our water rights rules are clunky old bits of legislation that essentially say "once you turn the pipe on, you can never turn it off."
Prompted by the idea that if you buy water from someone (for irrigation, mostly) and bet your livelihood on it, they've now got you by the balls. It's a product of the westward expansion and massive agriculture industries.
(I'm not defending it, just explaining)
----"I reject the idea that it is 'theft' when someone drills a well on the property they own and uses that well to supply drinking water to their own family."----
It's not drinking water that's the problem. It's the water for the shower, and cleaning the house, and then cleaning the car, and finally watering the garden.
And of course the big problem is that most watet is extracted from wells in dry areas. You don't water the crops when its raining.
Now in Southern Spain, which is one of the driest places in Europe, you have hundreds of golf courses. They are supposed to be irrigated with sewage water (which incidentally is superb for grass), but as the article points out many are watered by illegal extraction.
The wells are not for one guys house; they are often for whole apartment blocks of second homes that really shouldn't be there as there is not enough water to sustain that level of population.
But people want sunny days so they can lounge around the swimming pool. And, of course you get most sunny days in places where there is little rainfall. So you have a double whammy; higher population and loads of swimming pools in areas chosen precisely for their low rainfall.
May 16th, 2006 12:03pm
---"Spain has a problem with conservation matters. Its fishing fleet is a global disgrace."----
Spanish fistherman have a bad press, mainly because there are so many of them. Whereas many countries decided to "modernize" their fishing fleets and invest in maassive factory ships that have nets tens of kilometers long and use few fishermen to haul in immense quantities of fish, the Spanish resisted the siren song and have loads of small boats with a few fishermen on each.
I would say that the global disgraces are the Taiwanese, Japanese and Russian fleets of factory ships that trawl the high seas netting anything that comes their way and using a large proportion of their catch for animal feed.
Of course people in the UK thing of Spain as being a Mediterranean holiday destination. They don't realize it has an exceptionally long Atlantic coast and that its fishermen have been catching cod off Newfoundland for hundreds of years.
May 16th, 2006 12:12pm
----"Desalinisation ain't easy: "----
Since I live next to the largest desalination plant in the world, I suppose I ought to reply to this question.
Basically desalination is a bonus you get from fuel burning power stations. You use the fuel (in Saudi it is natural gas, of which they have a plentiful supply that would otherwise go to waste) to heat the water to turn the turbines.
Surprisingly enough we don't get to drink the water; it is piped to Riyadh, but from my experience in Riyadh I can say that it is barely potable. I an also told that it is still too saline for agriculture.
Now as you need to burn hydro-carbons to heat the water to turn the turbines desalination is not a long-term solution to water problems.
Solar energy won't do the trick. Spain has a reasonable command of solar energy technology - indeed one of my ex-students was the countries leading expert and responsible for designing solar panels for NASA - but neither they nor anybody else has had much success with high temperature uses of solar energy. Basically it is prohibitively expensive to make the components reliable enough to function at the high temperatures.
Incidentally, the reason for the uncontrolled construction in holiday resorts is to do with the funding of political parties. There is a lot of money to be gained in Spain in granting or refusing planning permission, and many town halls are run by corrupt businessmen whose sole reason for being n local politics is to get pay-offs from granting permits. Obviously, the more permits they grant, the more kickbacks they can collect. But even honest politcians have a reason to condone overbuilding. The two main sources of revenue for Spanish local authorities are transfers from local government based on the population, and property taxes. Both obviously go up with real estate expansion.
May 16th, 2006 12:26pm