Freshwater - Drivers and pressures (Spain)
Most of the hydrographical network is affected by pressures derived from human activities. About one-third of water bodies reflect some type of impact, and in 24.74 % this impact is probable and in 9.15 % it has been demonstrated. In a considerable number of cases there are no data available (37.68 %) and in 28.43 % of water bodies no type of impact has been registered. The data used in the above analysis are prior to 2005 and were published by the Directorate General for Water, of the Ministry of the Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs in ‘Hydrological Planning: a summary of general studies on River Basin Districts in Spain’, [s.a.: 2007]. Below is a list of the key drivers/pressures that act on water resources.
The Spanish economy has undergone strong growth in the last decade. Spain's entry into the EU made it necessary to adapt the productive system, leading to a strong development of the services sector and industry. The services sector is principally made up of tourism services, in which the hotel and catering sector is particularly noteworthy.
Amongst the pressures that economic development in Spain has had on water resources, the following are of note: population growth, increased irrigation in agriculture, the use of water in industry and — as a consequence of these uses — wastewater discharge.
- The functioning of the economy, its expansion and individual and collective well-being of the persons, who make up the economy, need to have a major set of demands for water services met. Amongst these demands, drinking water services for human use under safe health conditions must be considered first and foremost as the essential demand. The tendency appears to indicate that there is an increasingly responsible use of water and a reduction of loss from public networks.
- Spain is the second country in the EU in terms of Utilised Agricultural Area (UAA) (24.9 million hectares in 2007) and the third country in terms of number of holdings (939.5). Irrigation is used in 13.2 % of the UAA. The use of water on agriculture stood at 15,316 hm3 in 2008, representing a 5.5 % lower than 2007. The distribution of water used in farming (2008), according to the irrigation system used, was as follows: gravity and others (41.9 %), drip irrigation (33.6 %) and sprinklers (24.5 %), showing an evolution towards more sustainable methods in comparison with the previous years.
- 59.2 million foreign tourists chose Spain as their holiday destination in 2007. This is a record figure that was the culmination of almost constant growth for the last 40 years, although it fell to 57.3 million tourists in 2008 and 52.2 million in 2009, as a consequence of the deceleration of the world economy.
- According to the National Institute of Statistics, in 2008 22.3 % of water supplied to the urban supply networks was destined to the economic sectors, including industry. This figure was 2.3 % lower than the previous year.