The Minister for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera, has described the situation of the Mar Menor as an “environmental catastrophe that has been taking place in slow motion before our eyes.” Likewise, the third vice president has considered this Monday during her appearance in the Congress of Deputies that “to solve the problem, everyone’s intervention is essential.”
The causes of the environmental catastrophe in the lagoon, according to Ribera, are defined in various documents authorized by the regional government: “They are clear, they are known and have long demanded very specific responses that are supported by the scientific community.” “It would be desirable that in addition to identifying them [los problemas], these measures will be applied and executed. The causes are summarized in a main one: a load of nutrients and fertilizers far above that which the ecosystem is capable of absorbing “, said the vice president, who visited the Mar Menor last Thursday, as a result of anoxia – lack of oxygen in the water- There he met with environmental organizations, river mayors and the Murcian president, Fernando López Miras.
The first step would be “to begin by enforcing the law, sanctioning those who commit illegal practices, adopting the precautionary measures adopted in May 2020,” the minister stressed, recalling the average contribution of more than 400,000 kilos per day of dumping of nitrates. He also recalled the visit “almost two years ago” to San Pedro del Pinatar, as well as the declaration of the aquifer at chemical risk of July 2020.
“I am not going to enter into a debate about where the limits of the competences of each begin and end and if there are five or six hectares above or below. What matters to me is working to achieve the lifting of those illegal hectares and their restitution to the original state, as it is obliged to do with its own legislation “, the minister pointed out in reference to the competence of the Government of the Region of Murcia, which has evaded its responsibility at all times during the environmental crisis of the lagoon. “It does not make sense to waste economic resources in whitewashing a situation that is not resolved at the root,” he added in reference to the illegal crops that dump nitrates and phosphates into the lagoon.
Ribera has been critical of the López Miras government, although he has also recognized a certain “evolution”: “A little over a year ago, in July 2021, we declared the underground mass of the Cartagena field at chemical risk due to excess nitrates. We did so with the vote against the regional government of Murcia. Fortunately, I think that the decisions taken in recent weeks by the government council show that we have evolved a lot since then. Even if I am late, it is important. ”
He has also detailed the measures adopted so far, such as mining restoration, which is “a potential source of problems if runoff ends up carrying heavy metals to the Mar Menor.” All this is part of a program that “counted on the opposition of the Government of Murcia, which concentrated all its efforts on the recovery, denitrification, purification and return to the water cycle of nitrate-contaminated waters”. As explained by the minister, a proposal based on “establishing a circle of use, contamination, reduction of the polluting load of the water, and to be used again without addressing the root cause of the problem. It is not enough to hide the nitrates, their contribution must be eliminated. ”
“The Mar Menor does not admit more development or more threats. Neither urban nor agricultural growth is possible. On the contrary, we must work to reduce these contributions,” said the head of Ecological Transition. “The initial actions already have an investment of 317 million euros budgeted. It is very likely that they will require additional resources.”
One of the most ambitious proposals for the vice president is the writing of “an environmental report that should be favorable to the possibility of acting on more than 390 hectares, creating 216 hectares of rolling mills and restoring 13 km of riverbed.”
Another of the actions to which Ribera has committed is to establish “a constant and permanent communication mechanism” with civil society to “participate in a process of recovery for something that they feel is their own and abandoned.” Thus, the minister intends to meet with civil representatives “at least once a month” until this strategy is “on track.”