The Monfragüe National Park, in the heart of the province of Cáceres, has presented an unusual image for several days. The tail of the Alcántara reservoir, which reaches the Torrejón dam, both managed by Iberdrola, has been covered in a green blanket of “sludge, putrefaction and contamination”, denounced the mayor of Serradilla (1,500 inhabitants), Francisco Javier Sánchez Vega, who associates this situation with the discharges launched this summer for the generation of hydroelectric energy at a time when the price of electricity is reaching daily highs. The company denies any spill “or any other management” that could have motivated this phenomenon.
The Torrejón dam is at 91% of its capacity, technically at maximum, but the Alcántara dam is at 44%, 23 points less than the average of the last decade, according to data published by the Ministry for Ecological Transition. “That stagnant, smelly water, with such a low flow level in an area with the environmental protection of Monfragüe is only due to market and speculation issues,” says Sánchez Vega, who recalls that both dams are already amortized because they were built during Franco’s dictatorship, so the company’s profit margin is immense. According to their data, generating a kilowatt of energy in Alcántara costs three euros and in the market it sells for 172 euros.
But the mayor of Serradilla goes further and suspects that the smell and color of the waters could have to do with “some spillage” after the maintenance and cleaning work that has been carried out in the Torrejón reservoir, so the City Council has taken samples that you have sent for analysis.
So have the agents of the Nature Protection Service (Seprona) of the Civil Guard, who on Monday also took several water samples to determine the extent of this situation and whether, as the first mayor of Serradilla denounces, it is an “environmental problem”.
“Outside the management of Iberdrola”
But Iberdrola denies any spill “or any other management” that may have motivated this phenomenon, which, it underlines, is “outside its management”. The company recalls that the Tagus is subject to great “demographic pressure that, added to other causes unrelated to hydroelectric management, such as the use of fertilizers, causes the water to contain a large amount of organic matter. When the water is subjected to high temperatures can occur processes that generate odors “.
He also points out that this phenomenon has not been observed to affect the fauna or flora and “it is expected that they will disappear in a few days.”
For its part, the Ministry for Ecological Transition and Sustainability has expressed to elDiario.es Extremadura its “concern” about the situation that the discharges are causing, but recalls that it is “the responsibility of the Confederations as they are shared basins”. However, the Junta de Extremadura exercises powers in environmental matters, which is why it is “vigilant” as it is a national park.
Although the discharge of Alcántara and the putrefaction of the water is not a problem for human supply in Serradilla, as it did this summer in Valdecañas, it is for tourism, which is one of its economic engines. From this town of Cáceres to the limit of the Monfragüe National Park, an area known as the Salto del Gitano, a boat sails that allows visitors to enjoy the natural environment but from the water. However, the low flow has brought out an old bridge that prevents navigation and “we have lost hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of tourists who came to Serradilla to eat or have a coffee, for example,” lamented the mayor.
In addition, Sánchez Vega denounces a double standard on the part of the Junta de Extremadura and the Government of Spain. His town owns 1,500 hectares of public forest in Monfragüe, but due to the Law 30/2014 of Natural Parks “we cannot do anything: neither collect cork, nor hunt, nor collect, nor start any tourist use and neither even circular “, he enumerates, which has been a” drag “.
That same law states that hydroelectric uses are considered incompatible in the territory of national parks, although with respect to existing ones it establishes that the management “will tend to their suppression which, in the case of concessions or administrative authorizations, will mean, at least, their non-renewal at the end of the same “. In the case of the Alcántara and Torrejón dams, the concession does not expire until January 1, 2061.
“It is outrageous that the law is strictly applied to us when the impact of our activities is practically nil.” Therefore, the Serradilla City Council will convene a plebo to demand the cessation of all hydroelectric activities in Monfragüe.