Balearic Environment Minister Margalida Rossello warned yesterday that there must be no let up in the region's water saving campaign. The agricultural sector yesterday announced that the drought has seriously hit the sector this year, cereal farmers have lost nearly 1'000 million pesetas to the drought and the almond sector has estimated losses to be in the region of around 720 million pesetas. The Majorcan Farmers Union said that normally, cereal production is 2.900 kilos per hectare, this summer, output has dropped to 1.400 kilos. Rossello said that consumers need to make an extra effort to reduce the amount of water used as water levels are only getting lower. Rossello yesterday visited an information centre set up in the centre of Palma which is spear-heading a new campaign to try and finally get the message through to the majority of consumers. There is a minority which has taken the water warnings very seriously and water consumption has fallen, although vast amounts of water are still running down the drains through leaks in the pipelines. The slogan for the new phase of a revised campaign launched in July is “water culture, make the most of it”, or rather make the most of what little we have got. Rossello believes that the results of the campaign, which will come to a close next month, have been “positive” and once the campaign concludes, the data will be studied and the focus of the next campaign decided. Saving water and trying to encourage consumers to use less, has become an all-year-round occupation for the government. The Minister however, used yesterday's walkabout to broadcast the message to the general public that minimising water consumption “does not mean losing quality of life.” “What is does mean is a responsible approach to natural resources, especially during the summer, on behalf of private and industrial consumers,” she added. Last year's summer campaign brought about a two per cent fall in water consumption and the Minister is confident that the results of this year's drive will be better. Already the Ministry has some important data, water consumption in Calvia has fallen this summer by around two per cent, but in Palma, consumption has risen by four. Rossello said that she hopes that by the end of the summer, consumption in the capital will eventually show a down turn. She admitted that the situation up in the island's two main reservoirs and the wells “is not good”, but the Minister was quick to point out that apart from the drought, excessive exploitation of the reservoirs over the past 25 to 30 years has by no means helped the situation. The level of water in the reservoirs is slightly higher than over the past few years “but the water table and the wells will not recover for at least two or three years,” Rossello said. “Which is why we, the Balearic government, have drawn up a long term policy,” she added. The short term solution is for people to be more responsible with regards to water consumption and for the islands to rely, for the most part, on the desalination plants.

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