Save the river Ebro and its Delta

Plataforma en Defensa de l'Ebre's picture
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The river Ebro winds its way through Spain and Catalonia for 930 km before flowing into the sea at the Ebro Delta. This river delta was created by the sediments the river has deposited there over many centuries. The Ebro Delta is a spectacular, fragile place - a unique set of ecosystems hosting a profusion of bird species, but also home to tens of thousands of citizens whose way of life depends on the river.

As with most river deltas, it is under threat from natural causes including subsidence, regression and salinisation. The only way to ensure the Delta`s survival is the continuous delivery of water and sediments to this area.

However, water is a valuable resource. Different Spanish governments have made several attempts to carry out large scale water transfers from the Ebro over recent decades, to divert the Ebro’s water for mass tourism, unsustainable irrigation projects, and the growth of huge metropolises along the Mediterranean coast. These projects would only accelerate the problems the Delta is already suffering from. Seeing their livelihoods in danger, local citizens have campaigned for decades to protect the Ebro. Faced with the major water transfer plan of 2000, we set up the Plataforma en Defensa de l'Ebre (PDE) campaign group to bring together all our energies in a struggle which we eventually won when the European Commission refused to fund the project, and the next government repealed the plan.

The threats to the Ebro Delta never go away, though. The present Spanish government has presented the new Ebro Basin management plan (as required by European Directives), which should assess the current situation of the river and set out the next five years’ planning. However, this plan ignores all the recommendations of the European Commission (EC) and basically prepares the way for yet another attempt to transfer water out of the Ebro basin. In this Ebro version of the film Groundhog Day, the government once again ignores the needs of the Ebro Delta (its ecosystems and its people), and refuses to set a sufficiently high value for the minimum environmental flow of the river. The PDE has denounced this situation in Brussels, presenting a petition to the European Parliament and sending independent scientific opinions to the EC. On 7 February over 50,000 people demonstrated in the Delta, rallying in favour of EU legislation and the defence of the river Ebro and Delta. We call on the European Commission to enforce its own Directives and intervene directly in the case of the Ebro Plan before it is too late to save the Delta. 

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