Planning Framework in Spain

In Spain, water is not just another natural resource. Drought is more than a combination of meteorological factors because it usually produces conflicts between users, deterioration in river ecology, and increased public awareness. During drought, the decreased availability of water results in greater pressure on existing surface and subsurface water supplies, and debates about potential remediation measures usually go beyond the scientific or technical spheres and into the political sphere.

Water management in Spain is based on river basin departments (RBDs) (see location of main Spanish river basins in Figure 1). If water runs through more than one regional territory (autonomous community), the RBD depends on the state administration and is called an inter-community

Figure 1 Location of main river basin departments (black border lines) and autonomous communities (shaded regions).

Relleu Espanya

Figure 1 Location of main river basin departments (black border lines) and autonomous communities (shaded regions).

basin. An intra-community basin lies completely within the limits of one autonomous community, and the regional administration assumes authority for water management.

Water planning is accomplished through two main instruments: basin hydrological plans and the national hydro-logical plan.

The Water Act of 1985 conceived the basin hydrological plans as the central instruments in regulating water, to which, according to the text of the act, "all action in the public domain is subject." After a drafting process of more than 10 years, the legal texts of the plans were finally approved in 1998. Afterward, information about water resources in Spain was collected, analyzed, and described in the so-called "Libro Blanco del Agua en España" ("White Paper on Water in Spain") (Ministerio de Medio Ambiente, 2000), and it was used as the basis of the national hydrological plan. Approved by the Spanish Parliament in July 2001 and partially modified in 2004, the national hydrological plan includes the following measures to ensure the coordination of the different basin hydrological plans: forecasts, structural measures, and modifications affecting existing public supply or irrigation systems.

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