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The villages that surround the Tajo head reservoirs, located between the provinces of Guadalajara and Cuenca, suffer an unbearable decline due to water transfers to the Levante.
Our lives are the rivers that are going to give to the sea, which is dying. These are, perhaps, some of the best-known verses of Spanish poetry and, probably, the most famous of the poetic work “Coplas a la muerte de su padre”, by Jorge Manrique, a writer who is also closely linked to the land of I am going to speak and in which water is as necessary as breathing for the neighbours who inhabit it.
These verses could also be one of the slogans used by the inhabitants of the towns surrounding the once known as the Sea of Castile, the set of reservoirs at the head of the Tagus located between the provinces of Cuenca and Guadalajara, among which are the two larger ones, Entrepeñas and Buendía, which are the ones that supply water to the Tajo-Segura transfer.
The name given to this set of reservoirs may sound like a joke, if one takes a look at the reality they live today because, for example, the Buendia only accumulates 299 cubic hectometres (hm3) of water from 1,639 of the total of its capacity, while that of Entrepeñas stores 287 hm3 of the 835 that it can accumulate. A situation that, undoubtedly, have caused the numerous water travases to the Spanish Levante.
The last of these was approved on Monday, April 8, after the Central Commission for the Exploitation of the Aqueduct authorized the transfer of another 38 hm3, considering that on April 1, the volume stored in Entrepeñas and Buendía was 600.7. hm3. The members that make up this organism based their decision on that there was a pending volume of transfer of 11.7 hm3 and an effective reservoir volume of 589 hm3, higher than the threshold of 586 hm3 that corresponds to this month. These figures are those fixed by the Memorandum on the Tajo-Segura Transfer, approved in 2013 by the Government of the PP and that now the Socialist Executive of Pedro Sánchez has not wanted to repeal.
Figures and more figures, transfers and more transfers, which are the ones that piss off the citizens of Castilla-La Mancha every month, but even more so to the neighbours of localities such as Alocén, Almonacid de Zorita, Buendía, Durón, Sayatón, Villalba del King and Sacedón, that see how the reservoirs that are to his side are drying up gradually without nobody remedies it. This, despite the fact that the Supreme Court annulled, in a historical sentence after the denunciation of citizen associations and town halls, several articles of the Tajo Hydrological Plan for not setting ecological flows in several stretches of the river and that advocates reaching a new agreement in transfer material.
One of these associations is the one that brings together these riverside towns of the reservoirs of Entrepeñas and Buendía, whose president, Francisco Pérez Torrecilla, criticizes the “double face of the Government of Spain because, on the one hand, it does not stop sending hopeful messages, but , on the other hand, it is just as timid as the previous ones when it comes to addressing the real problem: the excess excessive demand for water in the Levant ».
Pérez Torrecilla is also mayor of Sacedón (Guadalajara), where he has been denouncing the “critical situation” they have lived for many years, since in the last decade this municipality, which has in the water of these reservoirs its main economic engine, has seen how it has lost 20% of its population, going from 2,000 inhabitants in 2009 to 1,500 now . “Depopulation is an endemic disease of the interior Spain and, specifically, of a large part of the province of Guadalajara, but in our case this is caused by the lack of water in the reservoirs that we live in,” he says.
The Entrepeñas reservoir, the closest to Sacedón, is surrounded by urbanizations that have the town as a center of leisure, but in recent years the signs of “sold, rented or transferred” paradoxically flood the facades of many buildings “Many people think that this place is not a good place to live or invest, something we want to fight against,” says the mayor. But the reality is stubborn and the population decline is accompanied by the disappearance of bars, restaurants and other businesses in sectors such as trade or construction, which are indirectly forced to close the same way.
In recent years, according to data from the hospitality sector, 50-60% of the accommodations have been closed and currently in Sacedón there are only four hotel establishments. One of them is the Hotel Rural Mariblanca, whose head, José Luis Labarra, serves ABC while receiving clients who are enjoying this area during these Holy Week days. Labarra points out that “people keep coming because it is a beautiful natural environment to see, despite the scarcity of water.” This establishment, which has a capacity for 60 people and also has a restaurant, has been open since 1954 and has witnessed the evolution of involution.
Another one who can speak with knowledge of cause is Juan José Jiménez, owner of the Pino Restaurant, where when one passes you can smell the roast lamb, specialty of the house along with other typical dishes of local cuisine. This establishment, inaugurated on February 16, 1961 by Juan José’s father, Laureano Jiménez, is one kilometer from the Entrepeñas reservoir, but years ago the water almost reached the foundations of the building, according to its current owner.
“In Sacedón we lived in the primary sector, but since the reservoir was built it is over and we only live on tourism,” says Juan José Jiménez, who recalls that before they counted in the restaurant with 5 or 6 waiters to tend the tables. And, even, they reinforced the staff in periods like the one now, in Holy Week, “but between the crisis and the transfers we are with the water to the neck; water governs the life of this people, “he says ironically.
But if there is one sector that has suffered most severely the lack of water and the transfers has been the nautical one. Entrepeñas has 800 boats registered per year, more than many seaports, but in recent years it is difficult to see boats sailing through the reservoir. Ricardo Ortega is responsible for Crisve Turismo, one of the four companies that continues to operate in Sacedón, after the closure of other businesses. He emphasizes that 2017 was the worst year he remembers, when they had to attend more accidents than other things, since many boats had more than one accident due to the shallow depth of many areas of the swamp.
Crisve Tourism now has only four workers, when before they had many more employees. In Easter they expect to have work, but the high season of the nautical sector goes from June to September. “If it does not rain anymore and the transfer continues working, we will have to cancel,” predicts Ricardo Ortega, who recalls with a certain nostalgia the years in which camping was permitted in the vicinity of the Entrepeñas reservoir, “when there were many more people and besides, paradoxically, the banks were much cleaner than now. “
The mayor of Sacedón, who opts as a candidate of the PSOE to be re-elected for the third time to be at the head of the City Council on May 26, still remembers the ravages caused by the drought and the transfers in 2017. Then, the reservoirs at the head of the Tajo were only 9% of capacity , something that changed thanks to the numerous rains of 2018. However, in 2019 the dammed water has fallen again and are weathering the storm as they can. “If we continue with this inertia and it does not rain any more or the transfers are paralyzed, in three or four months it will be catastrophic. Our raw material is water and, since the aqueduct was built, we have not been left with another development alternative, “laments Pérez Torrecilla.
The councilor from Saxe and president of the Association of Riverside Municipalities of the Entrepeñas and Buendía Reservoirs is clear in his message: “The Levante already has desalination plants, paid for by all Spaniards and that are underutilized, to combat the lack of water. The sea and the oceans represent 97% of the planet’s water; we are not lucky to be on the shores of the Mediterranean, but we also need water and our need, in theory, should be guaranteed by law. “
Source: ABC ES