The platform Salvemos el Arabí y Comarca has published the study Abuse of Aquifers, in which it reports that the aquifers of the Altiplano are in a critical situation due to the overexploitation of groundwater. In fact, it is estimated that "the volume of water extracted is five times greater than the one returning.''
The platform claims that twelve million liters of water are extracted from the Altiplano aquifers every hour. At the current pace, the aquifers could be depleted in between 10 and 40 years, "and it will most likely take even less than that if the expansion of intensive agriculture continues and climate change forecasts are met," said the platform.
Salvemos el Arabí y Comarca highlights that while traditional crops have been losing ground, especially rainfed ones, intensive vegetable agriculture ''has grown by 350% since 2009," both in terms of acreage and water consumption. "In the specific case of the municipality of Yecla, for example, horticulturalists already consume more water (10.54 hm³) than the rest of the crops combined (8.65 hm³)," they say.
The same can be said in Jumilla, where horticultural crops have recorded the most significant increase since 2009, having expanded by 672 hectares. Therefore, the consumption of water dedicated to this type of crops has increased by 4.04 hm³ / year, reaching 6.49 hm³ / year.
Furthermore, "the massive implementation of intensive irrigated horticulture has increased overexploitation by another 10 hm³ a year since 2009."
The intensive production and distribution system systematically generates a surplus production of between 30% and 50% (even up to 80%) which is not harvested, so the crops that are not profitable end up being destroyed. Companies that carry out this practice "should lose all the environmental sustainability certifications that give them access to international markets," said the Platform.