Urgell farmers will be assured of at least three irrigations in the worst case scenario

After the worst campaign of irrigation of historywith the main canal closed for several weeks, the irrigators of Urgell are already working on a new system adapted to drought. The idea of ​​this plan is that, if the situation of water shortage repeats, farmers do not lose crops. At the moment, the situation is better than a year ago, since the Rialb and Oliana reservoirs have more reserves, mainly for two reasons: it has rained and, since the canal was closed, less water was consumed.

“Everyone will decide which crops to prioritize and the distribution will be equitable“, Explain Amadeo Ros, president of the irrigators of the Urgell canal, to this newspaper. The new plan has been approved unanimously among the 135 trustees and the five presidents of the irrigation communities. “Now we have to wait for the snow they announce in Andorra and hope that it continues to rain,” says Ros.

The new plan already ensures three irrigations at least. That is to say, the canal will open to supply the whole world three times. This is the worst scenario, which, unlike last season, allows farmers to work with clear forecasts. “If someone prefers to prioritize trees and skip cereals, they can do so. Each farmer is free to distribute the water as he sees fit,” says Ros.

Positive reinforcement

This is a starting point. Currently, there are 75 hectometres safe for irrigation and supply. If it rains, it can reach 6, 7 or 8 irrigations, as was usual every year. The difference is that now farmers will plant their crops knowing the minimum water they are assured. “In many cases, people will be able to grow two cereal crops,” Ros predicts. When Saint Joseph’s Day arrives (March 19), the channel will open with the certainty that what happened this year will not be repeated: “Farmers sacrificed their cereal crops to save fruit trees.”

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The president of the Ebro Hydrographic Confederation (CHE), María Dolores Pascual, in statements to this newspaper, assures that the next step will be the definitive modernization of the Urgell canal: “The farmers must see that it works elsewhere to launch “this process is underway on their plots. In Urgell, in many cases, there are small and aging farmers. Sometimes, it is difficult for them to change what their parents or grandparents did because it is a significant investment.”

Pascual applauds the adaptation of the Urgell channel. “In Catalonia there are two different hydrological realities. In the case of the internal basins, supply is the priority use. In the Ebro basins this pressure does not exist because there is less population. The public function of distribution is delegated to the irrigation communities in some cases. From now on, the Urgell canal will have a much closer relationship with the CHE. They have containment elements and have improved their communication with communities and collectivities.”