On Monday last week, around 3,000 farmers from the provinces of León, Zamora and Salamanca demonstrated in León to demand a halt to the release of water to Portugal.
Portugal and Spain agreed this week to reduce water discharges from Spanish dams in the Douro basin, assuming the impossibility of meeting the agreed minimum flows, said Spanish government sources cited by EFE news agency.
The discharges that will be reduced are planned for dams that have hydroelectric production in the Salamanca and Zamora area, according to the same sources, and the decision agreed between the two countries advanced in the face of evidence that Spain will not be able to fully comply this year, in relation to the Douro, with what is stipulated in the 1998 Albufeira Convention, which regulates the management and flows of shared rivers.
Contacts between Portugal and Spain are daily, and the agreement to reduce discharges this week was reached last Saturday, the same sources told EFE, who said that the negotiations between the two countries respond to the mutual commitment to managing the shared river basins “loyally and in solidarity in the current drought situation”.
By Friday, 30 September, when the current hydrological year ends, Spain had planned to discharge 400 hectometres of water into the Almendra dam on the Tomes River, between Salamanca and Zamora, to comply with the Albufeira Convention, this was one of the points where the agreed reduction will have the greatest impact, along with the Ricobayo dam on the Esla River in Zamora.
According to EFE’s sources, the need to discharge 400 cubic hectometres of water into Almendra, Spain’s fourth largest dam in terms of capacity, would have required emergency work for a floating water capture system to guarantee the supply of water to 48 towns in Zamora.
According to the same sources, the talks between Portugal and Spain have respected the principles of equitable administration of water resources, taking into account priority uses on both sides of the border and ensuring the good ecological status of river flows.
On Monday last week, around 3,000 farmers from the provinces of León, Zamora and Salamanca demonstrated in the city centre of León to demand a halt to the release of water to Portugal under the Albufeira agreement.
The Association of Irrigation Communities of the Douro Basin (Ferduero) said that “extraordinary releases” of water are in question and considered that this is a “spoliation” that is taking place unilaterally and without any kind of dialogue, accusing the Spanish Ministry of Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge (MITECO) of continuously turning its back on irrigation and the rural world.