The CJEU rules that Spain has authorized the overexploitation of the water of Doñana, causing serious damage to its biodiversity

Posted: Thursday June 24 2021 4:53 PM

The EU Court of Justice ruled that Spain failed to comply with the Water Framework Directive in two aspects related to groundwater extraction for berry crops in Doñana. The award criticizes that no measures have been taken to take care of the groundwater of the wetland or of the protected habitats of the National Park.

Due to this overexploitation of aquifers, most of the lagoons of Doñana have dried up. In fact, at this time of year, only one swamp has water. According to Juanjo Carmona, WWF spokesperson, “the solutions are to close the farms and illegal wells in Doñana. The aquifer is overexploited and there is scientific evidence that overexploitation has negative effects on areas protected by European laws. .

It was the WWF organization that lodged a complaint with the European Union ten years ago. Now the ruling urges Spain to take action as soon as possible. A total of 115 illegal wells and more than 400 that draw groundwater will be closed.

However, this is not the first time that Doñana has been affected by human attacks. In 1999, a project was presented to dredge the Guadalquivir, that is to say to deepen it, so that the port of Seville could be enlarged. The project was never realized because it was stopped by the Supreme Court, but it took 20 years of judicial struggle and the intervention of UNESCO.

In 2016, two large energy companies started digging trenches to build a gas warehouse and, once again, UNESCO threatened to withdraw the title of World Heritage of Humanity.

Another project that was planned without taking into account the Natural Park was the creation of a highway connecting Cadiz and Huelva without having to go through Seville. Currently, you have to go through the Andalusian capital to cross from one province to another, a journey that takes a little over two hours by car. La Junta de Andalucía planned a shortcut in the middle of the natural area to save 15 minutes of travel time and, although the project was parked, it was not forgotten.

Not even one of Spain’s greatest environmental disasters, that of Aznalcóllar, has served as an example: 23 years after the toxic waste dump that nearly reached the National Park, the authorizations to reopen the mine could arrive at the end of this year. .

The region is also affected by the increase in fertilizers, pesticides and excrement due to the boom in agriculture and animal husbandry in the region. These pollutants end up in rivers and water ponds, and there are already plants in danger of extinction because of it.

Let us not forget either the abuse of protected species like the lynx, half of those who die are due to this cause; poaching (in 5 years they arrested more than 30 people for this in the Doñana region) and fires, which continue to reduce the area, whether intentional or negligent, such as stubble burning.

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