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Water transfers between agricultural and urban users in the region of Valencia (Spain). A case of weak governance?

Sanchis-Ibor, Carles, García-Mollá, Marta, Torregrosa, Teresa, Ortega-Reig, Mar, Sevilla Jiménez, Martín
Water Security 2019 v.7 pp. 100030
case studies, governance, interviews, stakeholders, urban areas, water security, water shortages, Spain
This paper analyses recent experiences of water transfers between rural and urban areas in Mediterranean Spain (Valencia Region) to assess the validity and sustainability of these procedures, and their fairness and consistency with the spirit of the current legal water framework. In order to investigate the transfer mechanisms, three case studies were selected. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with urban and agricultural users’ representatives, who provided administrative documents regarding water exchanges. Additional information was obtained through two participatory workshops with irrigators. The water transfer cases analyzed in the Valencia Region demonstrate a significant success in practical terms, solving contextual or local water crises, providing flexible mechanisms to adapt to a growing urban demand, or to find temporary agreements during periods of water scarcity. However, the cases also highlight significant problems within the water resources system, such as poor transparency and a governance framework that fails to include a number of affected stakeholders. Furthermore, in these cases the integrity of water resources systems has not been managed, resulting in unequal distribution of burdens and benefits.