The crops of the Tajo-Segura Transfer would go from being an important sink of CO2 to become a source of CO2 emissions, in the event that the aqueduct is closed and transfers from the Tagus are replaced by desalinated water. It is the main conclusion of the study carried out by the Polytechnic University of Cartagena (UPCT) on the carbon balance of the irrigated areas of the Transfer, according to the different scenarios of incorporation of desalinated water. The report has been presented this morning at the Murcia Chamber of Commerce and will be sent to the members of the National Water Council so that they know the environmental impact of desalination, at the time of the final vote on the change of the rules of exploitation of the aqueduct.
This pioneering report, according to its authors, has been published in the journal ‘Agronomy’. This promoted by the Central Union of Irrigators of the Tajo-Segura Aqueduct (Scrats) Through the University-Business Chair ‘Transfer and Sustainability – José Manuel Claver Valderas’ of the Polytechnic University of Cartagena, with the aim of calculating in an analytical and objective way the role of the Irrigation Areas of the Tajo-Segura Aqueduct as a CO2 sink , estimating greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural activity, the removal of CO2 associated with the crops planted and, as a difference between the two, the balance or carbon footprint.
Professors Bernardo Martín and Victoriano Martínez have explained that the CO2 sink effect of the Diversion crop surface decreases as the production and consumption of desalinated water increases, especially in horticultural crops, due to the higher energy cost to obtain a cubic meter of water. The president of Scrats, Lucas Jiménez, added that closing the aqueduct would cause environmental damage.
According to the study, the irrigation area of the Transfer is capable of reducing and sequestering 1.2 million tons of CO2 per year, the equivalent of the emissions produced by a population of 160,000 inhabitants. If desalination is incorporated, this sink effect is reduced by 10%; and if there were a total substitution of some flows for others, the catchment would drop by 40% and crops, especially horticultural crops, would become a source of emission when establishing the carbon balance of the entire production cycle, from the farm to market. Nine types of crops have been analyzed over two years.
The relevant factor to move from one situation to another, according to the study, is the cost of the energy required to produce or obtain a cubic meter of water. That of the Transfer, without desalination, is set by the study at 0.9 kilowatts / hour. If the current volume of desalinated water used by agriculture (the desalination and transfer mix) is incorporated, energy demand rises to 1.5 kilowatts. If the entire transfer is replaced by desalination (400 hm3 per year), the energy effort would be 2.8 kilowatts per cubic meter.
The report has been presented at the Murcia Chamber of Commerce, in a ceremony to which representatives of the agricultural sector, the Segura Hydrographic Confederation (CHS), directors of financial entities, the vice-rector for research of the UPCT, and the Minister of Agriculture and Water, Antonio Luengo. He pointed out that “all this must be told to the rest of the world so that it becomes known.” He stressed that as with electricity and gas in any area of Spain, all citizens have the same right to have water.
Lucas Jiménez pointed out that the agriculture of the Levant “is the most sustainable in Europe. You have to convince with studies and research, like this one that is presented today.
Mobilizations from day 3
Regarding the calendar of mobilizations, Jiménez explained that on May 3 there will be a concentration before the Delegation of the Government of Murcia; and on the 15th, performances in the town halls. The Circle for the Needle plans an act in Madrid before the 18th, where there will be “a wow factor.” He pointed out that there is unity in the Levant in defense of the aqueduct. “When you see the ears of the wolf, people react,” he said, mainly if it touches their pocket with the increase in water prices and if there is damage to the environment.
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