The Balearic environment ministry is opting for making the best use of existing water infrastructures and limiting the concession of rights to extract water from wells in order to allow the underground water tables to recover. Despite improvements following the recent torrential rains, levels in the aquifers are still way below capacity. At a Press conference yesterday minister Margalida Rosselló and the director general of water resources, Antoni Rodríguez, explained that on average, the aquifers in Majorca were 40 per cent full, rising to 43 per cent in Minorca and 46 per cent in Ibiza. But Rosselló stressed that although these figures show “a slight increase” thanks to the rain and her department's policies, levels are still on the low side partly because of over-exploitation over the past 30 years. As a result, she favours an overall policy to allow levels to rise, which includes making the maximum use of the existing desalination plants, promoting the re-use of treated water from sewage farms, restricting concessions for extracting water from the aquifers and launching saving campaigns. This will be complemented by a “water bank” which will be opened within the next few months. This will enable farmers to make a more rational use of water. Rodríguez said that it was not necessary to limit the drilling of wells but the rights for extracting water from the aquifers had to be controlled. He said that at the moment, there are 32'718 controlled wells in the Balearics and at least 10'000 which are operating illegally. The ministry is opposed to building new desalination plants, but Rossello said better use can be made of existing ones, by, for example, interconnecting those of Ibiza and Sant Antoni, and operating them all year round, not just in the summer, when there are shortages. Rosselló said that the water tables in best condition were those of Llucmajor (91 per cent full), Campos (67 per cent) and Na Burguesa (64 per cent). Those in worst condition are Felanitx (zero), Marina de Llevant and Almadrava (ten per cent).

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