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Science of the Total Environment 648 (2019) 1384–1393

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Water distribution management in South-East Spain: A guaranteed sys-
tem in a context of scarce resources
Joaquín Melgarejo-Moreno, María-Inmaculada López-Ortiz, Patricia Fernández-Aracil ⁎
University of Alicante, University Institute of Water and Environmental Sciences, Carretera San Vicente del Raspeig s/n, 03690, San Vicente del Raspeig, Alicante, Spain


• Growing global scarcity of water re-
quires good governance schemes.
• Alternative water supply sources have a
key role to play in managing drought.
• Mancomunidad de los Canales del
Taibilla is an example of good water

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: Growing global scarcity of water is forcing a change in their management models and the need to implement
Received 26 June 2018 good governance schemes, understood as the implementation of legal, institutional and economic mechanisms
Received in revised form 3 August 2018 that enable the efficient organisation of the activity developed by all of the agents involved in water management.
Accepted 20 August 2018
In this sense, one of the greatest achievements in Spanish hydraulic history is the organisation called
Available online 21 August 2018
Mancomunidad de los Canales del Taibilla (MCT), whose existence usually goes unnoticed in one of the most
Editor: José Virgílio Cruz arid regions of Europe: the South-East of Spain. Therefore, this study will analyse the MCT management model,
based on the good governance of water, as well as their positive socio-economic impacts on population and
Keywords: areas supplied as a consequence of the quality and continuity of the urban supply, which has been extraordinarily
Water governance beneficial for resolving health and hygiene and comfort problems. This is all thanks to the continual search for
Water scarcity new sources of supply, in addition to efforts to improve leakage control, modernisation of management, educa-
Alternative water supply sources tional campaigns implemented and the efficient and sustainable use of resources without financial unbalances.
Distributed systems © 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
South-Eastern Spain
Mancomunidad de los Canales del Taibilla

1. Introduction (Molina-Giménez and Melgarejo-Moreno, 2015). Currently, the new
paradigm conceives water as a basic resource for human life which
The growing scarcity of water is forcing a change in the way this re- must be managed as a scarce commodity with increasing value. In
source is understood and also in the existing models to manage it fact, thanks largely to tariff policies, water consumption has shown a
downward trend in recent years. Domestic users are increasingly mod-
⁎ Corresponding author.
erating their consumption (AEAS-AGA, 2016), which is a socially-
E-mail addresses: (J. Melgarejo-Moreno), assumed necessity, and they pay for a service rather than a product
(M.-I. López-Ortiz), (P. Fernández-Aracil). (Melgarejo-Moreno and López-Ortiz, 2016b). Therefore, although the
0048-9697/© 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

and. fore. on many occasions. Area of study must be well maintained and upgraded and intelligently exploited so that they can continue to carry out their functions efficiently.. there are significant region. ular rainfall recorded. The lack of water. when a volume of 301 l per inhabitant and day was re. lected from different supply sources. fundamentally car- m3. There. the non-compliance with the European regulations (Melgarejo. MCT). There is a variety of water supply systems coexisting in the South- Moreno and López-Ortiz. many of which are unre. 2011). MCT is an autonomous organisation attached to the Ministry for the try. the urban water services are managed by the institutions. J. 2011) by the MCT (Fig. using a language that is understandable and ac- the efficiency in the provision of the services. agricultural and environmental level is fun. in the absence of a sufficiently sta. but they 2.. as almost since the widespread use of progressive tariffs. from an economic perspective. This decreasing trend is the re. Spain as a whole. However. Mazarrón. 2014. but tures. in this case study referring to South- also to the incorporation of the different regional charges. very high quality resources for drinking water supplies. in order to be efficient. the efficient manage. persistence and continuity of periods of drought. in all cases. Canal del Cid. social. This requires a 2015). 2016). of which €1. that the average price paid in the provinces of Alicante and to which the service costs are covered (operation. a higher awareness among the nomic impacts complete the analysis of a good water governance exam- population. It is interesting to highlight. 2018). of the Iberian Peninsula is its aridity. particularly desalinated water The water sector in Spain is facing a series of important and urgent which generates a substantial increase in the average prices of the pro- challenges: from an environmental point of view. resources from outside the territory or on the collection of resources ket. expenses through rational distribution while heeding “the polluter The South-East region of Spain is characterised by endemic water pays” principle (European Commission. improvement. The powerful and complex nature of these infrastructures confers them a certain degree of inertia. This is under. which has acquired an inestimable value for the plays a fundamental role in overcoming these challenges. essential for shaping the territorial. by all of the agents involved in water management. One of the features that defines the climate of the Southeast region In order to achieve sustainable development. water resources are shown and discussed. cess of planning. consti- of water (Grindlay et al. This situation has necessitated constant efforts directed at in- tariff differences between provinces and autonomous regions for the creasing water availability. the high potential relieving water use conflicts (Wei et al. This desalinated water in order to meet growing demand efficiently and means that the investments required in water-related assets and hy. The entity of study: Mancomunidad de los Canales del Taibilla There is no single model to articulate the effective governance of (MCT) water. tutes a limiting factor for the growth and economic development of the Despite the average prices above-mentioned. including surface water. The good governance of water (Lautze et al. 2006). evapotranspiration due to the high level of sunshine exposure and the icy is based on covering the costs of the services and on each user as. etc. and economic mech. the major urban and tourist water supplies framework. development. together with the scarce and irreg- ment of water on an urban. the tariffs paid by users in Spain do not cover the costs of sources. institutional. due to the high number of public authorities with responsi. the governance systems should adapt to the social. It is precisely the good governance of water that characterises the operators. a constant decrease has been observed in the unitary flows inces of Alicante and Murcia. stra- ble and predictable regulatory framework (Casado. which implies a lack of unity in the mar. Bajo Vinalopó. The effectiveness of this rainfall is considerably di- damental and effective inclusive governance of water use is critical for minished by the strong intensity with which it occurs. requires a fairly complex pro- availability.02 corresponded to the supply service and €0. tegically (and practically exclusively) depend on the water distributed Giménez. draulic services cannot be made. a number of socioeco- sult of a greater efficiency in the services. This is mainly due to the combined use of water col- lated to the sector. 2016). there are some principles or basic attributes which are Ecological Transition (Ministry of Environment). in Spain. Campo de Cartagena and Valle del Guadalentín districts. groundwater. Consorcio ment gaps and inadequate tariffs for both recovering the costs incurred de Aguas de la Marina Baja. and economic dynamics of the region which includes mainly the prov- corded. water scarcity and vision of water for urban supply (Prats and Melgarejo-Moreno. transferred water. 2016a). East area of Spain (Fig. use segmentation invoicing and MCT and which makes it a practically unique model. In fact. 2016).77/ phase of the urban water cycle in South-East Spain. in this context of insufficient water resources. Molina. since 2007. Furthermore. invest. 2). supported by the information campaigns promoted by the ple. 2016). Melgarejo-Moreno et al. Taibilla (hereafter. the expenditure per family considered as being essential for the effective governance of water is compensated on the invoice by a gradual decrease in consumption (UN and WWAP. According to the study of tariffs in Spain (AEAS-AGA. Campo de Alicante. 3. and also the deficiencies in the current administrative sometimes of a poor quality. transparently. which are Giménez. with its headquarters . as well as on the good scarcity. The differences between geographical areas are due to factors of from different systems which. processes. proximity to the water resources.. and Murcia (AEAS-AGA. 2003). 2015).75 to ried out by the organisation called Mancomunidad de los Canales del treatment (sewage and waste water purification). the aquatic ecosystems and a sustainable use by this shortage of water resources. The European Water Pol. Borrego-Marín et al. and cultural characteristics of each coun. economic and social development of Murcia and Alicante as it provides stood as the implementation of legal. One of these is that the institutions should op- due both to a greater awareness among users and an improvement in erate in an open way. quality. with the current figure being 248 l study and the entity analysed. therefore. 2016). The result is an intense suming the costs that correspond to them in order to meet these water deficit in Southeast region (CHS. and exploitation of hydraulic infrastruc- niques and the costs necessary for treating and purifying water. economic. cessible so that the population as a whole is able to trust the complex Specifically. 2017). and the water services (Krinner. litoral de Águilas- bilities in the management of water. / Science of the Total Environment 648 (2019) 1384–1393 1385 price per cubic metre has increased slightly. 2000). the degree East Spain. this study will analyse the primary distribution 2016). 2004. the primary anisms that enable the efficient organisation of the activity developed phase of which is managed by this organisation (Melgarejo-Moreno. in water services and for undertaking the new investments (Molina. this area has seen its growth limited condition of the water. 2016) is higher than the average tariffs paid in renovation of infrastructures) or other factors. based on the need to obtain final user (AEAS-AGA. the evolution and the composition of per habitant and day (AEAS-AGA. After a brief description of the area of supplied in the secondary phase. its creation it has been managing the most diverse types of water re- However. tech. better domestic equipment. tariff structures. 1): Consorcio de Aguas de la Marina Alta. on the whole. the average price of water for domestic use in 2015 was €1. without VAT. legal and institutional framework which is consistent with the chal- lenges (Melgarejo-Moreno and Molina-Giménez. In view of the above. Sociedad del Canal de la Huerta. all policy decisions should be transparent so municipalities and each local authority can apply different prices and that everyone may easily follow the steps taken in policy formulation. However. to Bajo Segura. Finally..

7 hm3). 2017). as its construction plans.1 hm3 in 2012 and has are described below. and basic infrastructures have been the for water by the local authorities and associated organisations. in the South-East region of the peninsula. In direct consequence of them. who con.1386 J. mainly concentrated in the prov. the MCT has not only conducted a con- tinual search for new sources of supply but must have made admirable 4. 3.3 hm3). extra contributions are groundwater resources and assignment Taibilla River to the current transfers from the headwaters of the contracts taken together. including 80 municipalities crease has occurred in detriment to the water supplied by the TSA. representing around 55% (Martínez-Lacambra et al. 4. or political ideology can have a strong impact on attempts to In order to meet the increase in the demand for water by these mu. part of this current demand.000 inhabi. It was established in 1927 by Spanish Royal Decree-Law The increase in the proportion of desalinated water in the combined and initially supplied drinking water to Cartagena and its naval base. been supplied with own resources of the city councils of Alicante work (collection. reserve tanks). the different origins of the resources available The latest available information (MCT. nicipalities. as described in Section 4. 2010). 2014).. Water resources efforts to improve the management of the resources. Murcia (7 hm3). According to the data recorded for the year 2016 remained constant until the last recorded data in 2016. which ing 2013 was 201 hm3 compared to 210. in Cartagena. dynamic demographic growth. change governance models within the hydraulic sector. it could be said that sume on average (1979–2016) 201 hm3 of treated and distributed water water management is a governance issue which should contemplate each year. the available resources have taken different forms. specifically 14 hm3. However. Water supply systems coexisting in Alicante province. excluding two municipalities in Albacete date the spending of the MCT and the tariffs charged by the local author- (MCT. Overall demand dur. the supply sources. 3. 2017) confirms the trend have conditioned fundamental aspects of the historical path of the which began in 2005 of the reduction and stabilisation of the demand MCT. as shown in (MCT. 2017). without taking into account tourists and holidaymakers. but supply sources in recent years is noteworthy. and Elche (1. This is because this in- today it supplies an area of over 11. Tagus River. and storage in water (5. since the respective years of arrival of the new flows and the for example. the percentage distribution of the different water sources Fig.000 km2. Melgarejo-Moreno et al. / Science of the Total Environment 648 (2019) 1384–1393 Fig. piping. values. The failure to up- inces of Murcia and Alicante. economic and financial imbalances. . social of the total volume supplied (MCT. Its purpose is the supply of drinking water to the primary net. of land and water rights (Rogers and Hall. which has a much lower price than desalinated water. From the initial flows coming from the Fig. has is summarised in Fig. It supplies a population of approximately 2. national sovereignty. technically enhancing its management and promoting a With emphasis placed on the aforementioned complementarity of culture of a sustained efficient use of water. 2003). however. maximising leak- age control. Therefore. of which 110 hm3 has been transferred from the Tagus River the values of general interest and legal certainty through regulation via the Tagus-Segura Aqueduct (hereafter TSA). ities at the same pace has caused a tariff gap which could lead to serious tants. purification. 1. as is the case.500. or desalination.

Melgarejo-Moreno et al. 4. These resources were complemented with others from the Segura River in The first flows of the MCT came from the surface water of the Taibilla the 1960s. Natural surface resources objective of the MCT: to supply Cartagena and its military base. Source: own elaboration based on data provided by the MCT (2017). a tributary of the Segura River. De- River. This incorporation of resources from Fig.1. Population supplied and evolution of the distribution of the mix of flows demanded by the MCT in accordance with the most relevant sources of origin (1979–2016). J. expressed in hm3. . It was a limited source but of a high mand exceeded the available supply and it was necessary to expand quality and initially provided a sufficient volume for the original the range of available resources. 3. / Science of the Total Environment 648 (2019) 1384–1393 1387 Fig. Municipalities and provinces considered in the area of study. before the first water crisis faced by the organisation. 2.

with an annual Spain's Eastern Coast. the concept of the transfer was first proposed in maximum total of 650 hm3 in each hydrological year (600 for the the National Hydrological Works Plan of 1933. the new exploitation rules of the Tagus-Segura transfer the Talave Reservoir on the Mundo River which is the principal tributary are established in accordance with the levels of joint reserves in of the Segura River (Fig. for the hydrological plan and report of environmental sustainability of The contribution of resources from the Segura River to the reservoirs the hydrological planning process corresponding to the Spanish part in the headwater basin has reduced considerably in recent years (Jódar. Therefore. a mechanism for ensuring security and technical Entrepeñas (804 hm3). contributing to the objec- tification of decision-making. However. sealed the continuity of this infrastructure water sources distributed by the MCT. Interbasin transfers surplus waters of the Tagus-Segura transfer”. Similarly. Food and the Environ- ment.2. the Tagus-Segura transfer has which was so important for Spain as a whole. is by (Molina-Giménez. stability was established when the Government of Spain was instructed on the Guadiela River. Fig. the transfer. Furthermore. A notable feature of the constituted a basic pillar in the functioning of the MCT. From Bolarque. which approves diverse regulatory standards for the Tagus- was necessary to regulate the organisational and economic aspects of its Segura transfer). the Royal Decree of 2014 which currently regulates them (Royal Decree After the TSA was completed in 1978 and began operating in 1979. 1976). developed based on the Memorandum. the agreement. exploitation through Law 52/1980. the water is channelled to the to update the determining magnitudes in the regulations for exploiting Bujeda Reservoir (884 m in altitude). on Environ- supply. 2009). LEI) constituted a vehicle for and Sadoff. After an extended period of uncertainty and growing unrest that lasted 18 years. 5). in October. from where it is conducted to. Madrid. However. providing the MCT with additional monthly volumes of the curve through which the transfers to be ap- resources to complement its own so that it would no longer suffer proved are submitted to the Cabinet. / Science of the Total Environment 648 (2019) 1384–1393 for the first phase. and Extremadura also signed 1979 meant that there were sufficient resources to supply the munici. it was transformation.. 160 hm3 to those previously established. The infrastructure is periodically subject to the . enabling the Memorandum is the will to reach agreements regarding the grounds continued expansion of the area supplied. the first time that there had been a consensus between all of the affected long and 33 m3/s channel which begins in the Bolarque Reservoir Autonomous Regions which contributes to the good governance of the (35 hm3) in the Tagus River. 2017). Article 23 of the regulations of the Tagus Basin Hydro- logical of 1998 technically identified the minimum threshold for not transferring when the reserves in the Entrepeñas and Buendía Reser- voirs were equal to 240 hm3. of the Tagus River Basin”. which laid the founda. a very difficult situation would have arisen that would could be approved. giving legal certainty to the forming part of an ambitious national project of economic and social transfer which it had never previously enjoyed.638 hm3). This proposal established the increase of the Abellán et al. and from there to In the LEI. the future of the Tagus-Segura transfer was questioned through a series of legislative proposals which can be summarised in two possibilities: the possible revocation of the Tagus-Segura transfer or a reduction in the transfer- able or available flows through an increase in the legal reserves in the Upper Tagus. In addition.. In general terms. derstanding between the Ministry of Agriculture. of 9 December 2013. below which no transfer the Segura. some differences can be ob- tions of Spain's modern hydrological planning and was continued in served between the volumes planned to be transferred in comparison the General Plan of Hydraulic Works of 1940 (Melgarejo-Moreno and with those levels approved in the Environmental Assessment Law and López-Ortiz. adopting part of the observations and recommendations which were The TSA constitutes the largest hydraulic infrastructure in Spain. Segura and 50 for the Guadiana). due to current of the Tagus-Segura transfer. their liquidation and destination provides a fundamental part of the flows managed by the MCT. Distribution of flows harnessed by the MCT in 2016 according to their origin. 2014). which was signed on 9 April 2013 in Madrid (Melgarejo-Moreno et al. in March 2013. the system now enjoys water security (Grey mental Impact Assessment (hereafter. downstream from the hyper-reservoirs of resource. in large measure. the use of a governance instrument was pressures and the possible effects of climate change (Melgarejo-Moreno chosen to try to resolve the situation through the “Memorandum of Un- and Molina-Giménez. the territories involved in the Tagus-Segura palities served by the MCT. the Director- ate General for Water of the Ministry of Agriculture. it established the increase in the stituted a solution to this problem. from 240 hm3 to 400 hm3 although no reasoned jus- have been difficult to sustain after 1980. wards the hyper-reservoir of Alarcón (Júcar River). of 16 October 1980. Melgarejo-Moreno et al. the structure consists of a 286 km. It enables a higher volume for preserving the Tagus-Segura transfer. 4. which lishes the calculation of the tariffs. Since its integration into the system of transfer. on the Tagus River. After an extended period of stagnation. This threshold numerically defines the so-called exceptional hydrological conditions. which estab. 2007). If the MCT had continued to take resources from non-surplus volumes in the Upper Tagus. and Buendía (1. in other words. In order to correct the water deficit on Entrepeñas and Buendía at the beginning of each month. the Region of Murcia and the Region of Valencia regarding the 4. Source: own elaboration based on data provided by the MCT (2017). distributed between irrigation (400 hm3/year). after 2008. Later. it 773/2014. The arrival of the Tagus-Segura transfer waters as from the year the regions of Castilla La Mancha. urban supply (110 hm3/year) and losses estimated at 90 hm3/year. A volume of 600 hm3/year was calculated no means guaranteed. tification was given for this. the continuity of the Tagus-Segura transfer. 2016). In view of the incessant uncertainty surrounding the operating plan umes to be estimated at between 30 and 50 hm3 per year. Nevertheless. The Tagus-Segura transfer con. Food and the Envi- ronment published an announcement declaring the beginning of the the Segura River resolved the MCT's first water resource crisis when real public information and consultation period for the “Project proposal demand exceeded the water available (MCT. 2009). linearly and by an additional from drinking water restrictions. of resources with a substantially improved quality and a guarantee of The processing of the Law 21/2013. The hydrological situation of the Taibilla River allows the future vol.1388 J. with priority given to the supply of drinking water in the event of drought.

Non-conventional resources Currently. These agreements. / Science of the Total Environment 648 (2019) 1384–1393 1389 Fig. the drought suffered in 4. such as the inter-basin transfers. 6. In its early stages. on average. For example. However. the resources by the organisation's Board of Directors. significantly. when the rest of the available re. this new source of resources has lination plants of the area of influence (March 2014) have provided the represented a guarantee for supply. ecution of the desalination plant of San Pedro del Pinatar II and the ur- sources are not sufficient to meet the needs of the system. of the urbanisation process and the dynamism of the tourism activity. adopted town councils and are sometimes transferred to the MCT.. are particularly important. The reality was very different. This rejection has been customary in recent government of the Segura River Basin). contemplated in the National Hydrological Plan. availability of other sources. groundwater gent processing of all of the actions managed by the MCT resources are also important. although its use is subject to the following volumes. J.5. 5. 2010). existence of resources that are cheaper than desalinated water. in detriment to the resources from inter-basin transfers. For instance. Since then. through Law 46/1999. called Syncline of Calasparra years. successive increases in prices and financial imbalances and hydrological conditions within the MCT's area of activity and the are likely. 3. effects of an unproductive political-territorial debate which compro. the MCT had to increase the tariff that it charged to groundwater resources to MCT water demand is 10% since the year the municipalities in order to maintain its financial equilibrium after 2000.4. Even though much less water has been generated than the total (Sinclinal de Calasparra). channelled through mechanisms based on the opment was justified with the increase in demand due to an expansion pact between the different political and territorial institutions. as its high production cost directly affects As these plants are obliged to produce more resources. The conflicts are expected to ternative resources. 4). contemplated in the AGUA Programme and the formulation of all of which regulate and secure water availability in times of drought its Environmental Impact Declarations during the year (MCT. there were basically two arguments in favour of The reform of the Water Law of 1985. installed capacity allows. The groundwater concessions are held by some the desalination plants began operating. desalination is occupying an important role in the percentage distribu- The MCT began to use desalinated water from the Canal desalination tion of the water sources for the MCT (see Fig. together with the paralysis of the Ebro transfer. led to the approval of the emergency ex- In situations of water scarcity. due to the re- the tariffs charged by MCT to the different distribution operators duction in the traditional contributions and. 4. Location of areas supplied by MCT and general infrastructure of Tagus-Segura interbasin transfer. 2016). due to the good meteorological Segura transfer. which is desalination which were not fulfilled (March et al. 2006). annual percent contribution of Consequently. identified as extra contributions in Fig. In this way. the activity was limited to producing the volume necessary to 4. were opposed by the represen- from one aquifer of the Confederación Hidrográfica del Segura (CHS.3. the increased costs derived from the produc- tion of these resources have necessitated the adoption of this measure. the tatives of the municipalities. the desa- plant (Alicante I) in 2003. gave a legal . during 2013. and that its devel- continue in the future. claimed that the costs would be equal to or less than those of other al- mises the good management of the MCT. Assignment contracts guarantee the correct maintenance of the facilities (see Fig. Melgarejo-Moreno et al. the Tagus- (Rico-Amorós. as shown in Fig. 3). Groundwater resources 2005.. 2014): it was included in the recast text of 2001 (Articles 67 to 72). (Custodio et al.

In addition. • The substantial and increasing managed volume of water resources. the supply of drinking water only to Cartagena. several municipalities mand in line with the guidance of the prevailing ministry during have complemented the resources of this organisation with their own every period. in its own right. which mulation of the groundwater extraction campaigns during 2006 operates at a supra-regional scale.2 hm3.6. Alicante. for a volume of water of 1. constituent regulation from the beginning: the National Government cess of reassigning flows can be conducted in the first person (through the Ministry of Environment. Orihuela (13. They are used as istry for the Ecological Transition) provides economic assistance. However. signed on the autonomous communities. in Catalonia. according Blanco. joint entities. and Hondón de las Nieves (7. nue collection. Con. empowered to make Source: own elaboration based on data provided by the MCT (2017). a number of factors characterise and differentiate MCT in c. San Vicente del order to meet good water governance assumptions: Raspeig. other important issue is the partic- high. in the Madrid Region. in supply of some municipalities: Alicante. For example. which is clear in its to promote the creation of rights exchanging centres whereby the pro. none of these organisations has got the direct and 2015. originating from the accu. contracts for assigning water rights is the Chairman of the Management Board. in its first article. Currently. / Science of the Total Environment 648 (2019) 1384–1393 water and also their groundwaters. there are other big water supply systems such as Canal de Isabel II. in 2006. de la Reina Well and five more wells in the municipality called • MCT relies on a wide variety of origins of water resources. regulations: the ability to create standards of regulatory standing. b) Management Board and Executive Committee: formed by official munity of the Canal de las Aves (Aranjuez) for an amount of 10. The Ex- was signed with the irrigators of rice-growing areas in Hellín and ecutive Committee acts under delegation from the Management Moratalla. Contribution of the Júcar River (Alarcón Reservoir) to complete the comparison with other water distribution management systems. the The drought alert in 2006 justified the application of the measures con. for the extraction of groundwater in the Collado the administrative control of the organisation. Acquiring water through this mechanism usually generates a lesser degree of social opposition as the economic compensation can be With regard to financial support.8 hm3). which is now referred to as Min- (Melgarejo-Moreno and Molina-Giménez. d. due to the new drought suffered during the water year however. Contribution of the Syncline of Calasparra. a new agreement had to be signed with the corporation called partnering interrelationship between the National Government and Heredamiento de Alguazas. they are not relevant in the system as a whole and these own resources serve as a complement in specific towns. and is the only water supply system (13. Cartagena and Lorca. Be- sides. Santa Pola. MCT manages three Spanish e. MCT was born as an indefinite duration entity the MCT. MCT makes the ongoing ef- fort to implement new awareness campaigns to manage the water de- Practically since the MCT began its operations. its naval base. The administrative organisation of the MCT The Spanish Royal Decree-Law (4 October 1927) mentions.5 hm3). 2007): c) Director: is the head of technical and administrative services. a. b. but extra contributions in times of need. to keep the institutional relationship with the drastic measures of reducing water volumes to the municipalities and Ministry.2 hm3). • MCT is a public and independent state agency. it would be desirable for the water authority eration of the primary phase of water supply. to authorise and order expenditure approved. Transfer of rights of Hellín and Moratalla municipalities (1. whose responsibilities are: to carry territory in order to construct a strategic water reserve so as to avoid out the agreements. 1997). MCT implements new projects and . Local Entities are required to contribute to the operational costs.5 hm3) from the Tagus River were signed with the Irrigators Com. (35.1 hm3) and 2007 (9 hm3). principally Murcia (from the Segura River in la Contraparada). Canal de las Aves (35. Calasparra (MCT. but notes an expansive vocation by foreseeing the future integration of other municipalities. Murcia and Orihuela. and Alicante (water from the Villena Aquifer). It establishes the possibility of transfer. in quantitative terms. but these regions have no formal role in 26 December 2006. voluntarily and subjected Fig. Another contract assigning the water rights from the Segura River sentative of each integrated town council or entity supplied. Elche.1390 J. with which the MCT has ipation of the users (Local Entities) in the costs of construction and op- had a positive experience. • In Spain. Inter-basin transfer contract. Flows and desalination plants providing non-conventional resources supplied by to budgetary availability. 6. 4. or Aigües Ter Llobregat. Recently. Assignment of management agreement with the CHS. Besides. 2017). facili- tating the full cost recovery principle for water services. Board and consists of: representatives of State Administration. two essential powers are recognised: self-organisation and reve- structure to the water markets. nary additional resources to those provided by the Syncline of • The continued integration work of local entities. and two represen- templated in the MCT's protocol for drought situations and in their devel. with this administrative identity in Spain. Mayors of Murcia. whereby 0. For the year 2017 only figures up to August are available (included). 5. and taking on important administrative functions. Municipal flows Concerning sustainable use of resources. Melgarejo-Moreno et al. In addition to the bilateral contracts.9 hm3 were used as extraordi. Local Entities. Moreover.5 hm3). Aspe. tatives of the remaining town councils integrated.2 million representatives of the sectors of the State Administration one repre- euros. MCT is now composed by the following governing bodies. opment the following exceptional measures were adopted (MCT. 2017). ring water rights which can be used by other recipients (Vergara. there are several municipalities that use their own water. to the Spanish Royal Decree 2714/1976: tracts for the assignation of water rights have been signed with irriga- tors of Castilla-La Mancha (Tagus River Basin) or of the Segura Basin a) The Delegate of the Government. This has been the case in recent years of the MCT.

.. the need to plan the current and future uses the organisation on the quality of life and demographic evolution and taking into account a possible reduction in the flows supplied is evident its influence on economic sectors such as tourism. New Water Culture Foundation: interbasin transfers. new tourism models have the territory between Alicante and Almería traditionally suffered from emerged based on products such as golf (Melián-Navarro et al. the scarcity of water has condi- The intervention of the MCT has put an end to the limitations that tioned the socio-economic development of the region of the study compromised the quality of life in the municipalities before they be. emergence of situations of competition to supply the different uses. the next challenge was to introduce area supplied by the MCT is clear. 2011.. partic- ment of a complex legislative and economic framework changed in the ularly aimed at capturing foreign citizens (Vera-Rebollo et al. 2012) and. 2002). are being built in the pre-coastal area for the residential market. the so-called residentialism accounts caused by a lack of water was achieved by guaranteeing a continual and for considerable amounts of urban units which justify the creation of a regular supply with the due physicochemical quality. 2009). drink water with a high salt content. as a result of both the inclusion of new municipal- population and economic development in coastal areas and demo. the associated posi. It was also driven graphic decline in central rural areas from where water is transferred. by the progress of the different economic sectors which now had the Nevertheless. which (CHS. until the arrival of the waters from the Taibilla River (Carrillo de la Moreno and Molina-Giménez. Melgarejo-Moreno et al.. but before had no de- issue and should be borne in mind that donor territories participate in velopment possibilities. such as typhoid and paratyphoid fevers This has given rise to a demand for new and numerous holiday homes or other illnesses with frequent outbreaks and profound consequences in South-East Spain (Ortuño-Padilla et al. broad system of services. Hernández-Hernández. operates extend to all areas of activity and interest due to the impor. a disease associated to a lack of hygiene and. The solution to health and hygiene related problems growing demands. 2015). Therefore. Rico-Amorós and Hernández-Hernández.. 2008). deal with leakages or apply new Orden. 2011). Discussion on water resources (Morales-Gil. The availability of water resources in territories where there is natu- Environmental costs are a subject of a separate study. such as cholera and malaria (Grindlay et al. conditions of South-East Spain made it a privileged area for the develop- idarity (Molina-Giménez and Melgarejo-Moreno. In sources which meet the full cost recovery principle for water services this way. tensions arise due to the use of the scarce resource. 2014) and tariffs paid by municipalities did et al. the area supplied has ex- and supply restrictions (Morales-Gil and Vera-Rebollo. Socio-economic impacts and the urban-tourist activities and it is not possible to increase the vol- ume of the resources. ment of tourism activities. largely. to . in Cartagena or Lorca. Leisure. 2017). However. the problems were more related to underfunding Helped by the boom in the tourism activity. with the arrival of water with a guaranteed quality. or trade. / Science of the Total Environment 648 (2019) 1384–1393 1391 investments every year in order to provide water efficiently (Nieto. It is nomic growth with an essential resource guaranteed by means of a cost. social development and eco. (2014) argues against water transfers by considering that promote tion supplied in the area of the MCT of the province of Alicante has an unbalanced regional development model with the concentration of grown exponentially. tance of the resource. improve and modernise the management (Melgarejo. Moreover. 2013) due. the popula- et al. came connected: an increase in morbidity and mortality or a decrease as the endogenous resources are structurally insufficient to meet these in life expectancy. the eral interests should be governed by the principle of inter-territorial sol. 2016). application of the concept of a public service (Matés-Barco. for example. To complement the tourist supply described existed throughout the South-East area of the peninsula meant that above. The hygienic and health conditions improved thanks to technologies in achieving energy efficiency. It was a very common illness until well into the a long-term strategic planning. the consump- efficient technical operation and without financial unbalances thanks to tion of brackish water. 2015). J. the urban supply needs. 2015). according to its strategic the quality of the new waters compared to those used before which plan (MCT. 2014). 2017). not increase due to the strategic long-term financial planning of MCT. Therefore. ities have acquired great importance in the evolution of water demand existent due to the compliance with the new exploitation rules in many Spanish regions. was affected by an endemic unquestionable benefits: on the one hand. If this competition exists between the agricultural activities 7. an (Grindlay et al. most of all. it is possible to highlight the effects of In tourist territories. the historical deficit in South-East Spain precedes this ideal natural resources in order for them to grow. the guarantee of supplying the demand for water The socio-economic impacts of the MCT on the territory in which it in the urban areas becomes the principal objective (Rico-Amorós et al. since the develop. as well as gen. (Gössling et al. 2016) which has increased for the population. properties sociated with the nature of the water supply system. adequate drinking water supply is essential which was not available Llobet. industry.. but it is worth ral water scarcity and with intense territorial dynamism justifies the mentioning that desalination and water transfers are the only two re. had a saline content that was too high for human consumption. for example. (Rico-Amorós. the truly determining and comfort in the service. therefore. 2007. Other municipalities of Alicante rounding areas of desalination plants. of water originating from ditches where the toilet waste of other inhab- only one source of water raised the opposition of certain groups as itants was discharged.. The population water sources for urban use and has never had detractors thanks to its of Elche (province of Alicante).. 2002). form of trachoma (Melgarejo-Moreno and Molina-Giménez. on the other hand. requirements as.. 1989). environmental the scarcity of drinking water obliged the population to frequently flows in Segura River or the recovery of endemic species in the sur. although the importance of hotel accommodation in the these problems were overcome. Hernández-Mora Thanks to the improvement in the sanitary conditions. 2017).. based on the sun and beach product. including the province of Alicante (Morote (Melgarejo-Moreno et al. tourism and second residence activ- from May 2017 to May 2018. while with regenerated water (Ortuño-Padilla et al. 2010). the benefits that the water generates in other territories. Specifically. In the coastal tourist destinations. characterising factor in this area is the accommodation in extra-hotel The scarcity of resources and the inadequate quality of those that tourist-residential units. considering that golf courses are watered In Murcia. water transfers from Tajo were non. 2014). endemic water-borne diseases. Once Therefore. endemic typhoid fevers were common. 2017). twentieth century throughout the South-East region of Spain where tive environmental externalities as water regeneration. Other diseases that propagate when there is a shortage of freshwater MCT has been successful in always finding more complementary and poor sanitation are trachoma or contact dermatitis. These perienced major territorial transformations since the 1960s and 1970s diseases can be easily controlled with improved hygiene. ities and the demographic growth of the existing ones. and Murcia suffered similar problems or others derived from the use As remarked in Molina-Giménez and Melgarejo-Moreno (2015). were traditionally resolved with measures to increase supply where possible. tradi- tionally creating a dependence on rainwater collection tanks 6.

Olcina and Rico-Amorós. This real estate activity has a di- rect relationship with the supply and availability of water. the educational campaigns implemented and the tion is not perfect. which to. social. Nevertheless. constitutes one of the greatest achievements in sources. so the MCT has a decisive role in the maintenance and progres. 2007). The authors also acknowledge Antonio construction permits registered in the provinces of Alicante and Murcia (left axis) and Jódar-Abellán and the anonymous reviewers of the manuscript. however. however. Spain (Patricia Fernández-Aracil has a scholarship for The Training of Univer- sity Teachers from the University of Alicante. leakage control. demo. the adoption of a holis- the development of the sector itself and due to the carry-over effect pro. This is all of water supplied during recent years has led to the stabilisation in the thanks to the continual search for new sources of supply. tourism. whose the flows supplied by the MCT (right axis). / Science of the Total Environment 648 (2019) 1384–1393 the intense urban development process along the Mediterranean coast- line during the years prior to the economic recession. the modernisa- other socio-economic factors has not been considered. of the supply of drinking water has been forgotten. the availability of water has enabled economic. and environmental). . Murcia (left axis) and the flows supplied by the MCT (right axis). In this way. such as that provided by the MCT. and industrial growth among other aspects. a growing trend in the evolution Under these precepts. or their cultural political economy. teed the quality and continuity of the urban supply. overcoming the en- of water supplied by the MCT. FPU-UA-2014) and by the University Institute of Water and Environmental Sciences of the Univer- sity of Alicante. The MCT. it has guaran- In short. 2002). the sustainability of its natural re. a region Murcia can be observed in line with the parallel increase in the flows with major demographic and economic growth. It is thanks to this organisation that However. of the integration. Furthermore. the use of comprehensible language. economic and technological mechanisms. Therefore. Without it. These industries require a guaranteed water supply for their day-to-day oper- ations. as we can ob- serve in the practically parallel evolution of both processes as shown in Fig. sion of this highly strategic production fabric. fraught with hardship and re- essary to contextualise. city problems. For this reason. plays a fundamental role. that are the main claimants to be in- sation and management of water. and the most efficient provision of tegrated in the Mancomunidad because. political. there are some essential basic strictions. as an immediate consequence the associated services (Melgarejo-Moreno and Molina-Giménez. the traditional and distressing problem.69 euros per cubic 2017). 8. as shown in Fig. Acknowledgements This work was supported by the Office of the Vice President of Re- search and Knowledge Transfer of the University of Alicante. so the correla. institutional. which avoids the constric- the guarantee of the sanitary conditions of the population of the region tion of inhabitants' life and economic sectors. they enjoy a single price (0. few goods and services provide such a high level of satisfac- development in the region. which has been ex- graphic. The fact that its existence goes unno- ticed may be a sign of its efficiency. duced in the development of other activities directly related to the avail. and economic systems that enable a better organi. the requests for new supply will be conditioned by the prior guarantee Fig. public policies. Source: Own elaboration based on data from the Ministry of Development (2017) and assistance and comments contributed significantly to improve this those provided by the MCT (2017). it would have been the object of ferocious criticism from the different social agents and local authorities (Morales-Gil. it goes largely unrecognised (Gil- society. 2016). so. 8. 7. The residential ex- pansion of this area has been based on low and medium density land use models which have a relative water consumption that is even higher than that of residential units located in compact towns (Hernández- Hernández and Morote-Seguido. ability of water resources. Melgarejo-Moreno et al. therefore. the reduction in the volume demic scarcity of available resources and the drought cycles. 2007). Similarly. Data provided by Mancomunidad de los Canales del Fig. tion of management. 8. although the influence of to efforts to improve the management. efficiency of the area also naturally requires a guaranteed water supply both for (economic. work. tic approach and the development of the appropriate legal. as it is not possible to have the former without sufficiently guaranteeing the latter. Evolution of the number of new properties constructed according to the new Taibilla have been essential. independently of their political colour cial. the development of the extensive area that benefits from its services would have been unimaginable. the correct management of water resources enables metre) and the security of a quality supply. and the success of its economies. administrative. in addition number of companies. tion as the regularity and quality of the drinking water supply. traordinarily beneficial for resolving health and hygiene and comfort gether have constituted the engine of the territorial and social problems. intensifying the pressure on water resources and their distribution systems (Rico-Amorós. 7. there is no single model for water governance as it is nec. principles for the good governance of water (Lautze et al. Evolution of the number of companies registered in the provinces of Alicante and of the long-term sustainability of the exploitation of the resource.1392 J.. the South-East of the Iberian Peninsula also constitutes a dynamic territory in terms of its industrial activity. the efficiency of the MCT has enabled it to of the number of companies existing in the provinces of Alicante and guarantee the drinking water supply to the South-east of Spain. It is municipalities. The commercial activity which are: transparency. and institutional frameworks accepted by Spanish hydraulic history. efficient and sustainable use of resources. Conclusions MCT constitutes a unique management and governance model which structure could be reproduced in other regions with water scar- Water governance can be understood as being the set of political. As well as having an important agricultural sector in which irrigation Source: own elaboration based on data from the INE (2017) and those provided by the MCT (2017). if the opposite case were true. 2011).

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