Comenius:2009.02: Políticas de gestión del agua

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Preguntas iniciales, tareas, algunas referencias

¿Qué políticas aplican los diferentes países para la gestión y abastecimiento del agua a las muchas posibilidades de consumo de agua?; uso doméstico, agricultura, turismo, energía, etc. Analizar, además, si estas políticas son sostenibles o no.

Comparativa de Políticas en la gestión del agua; cómo los organismos competentes reparten el agua respondiendo a las necesidades básicas de la población y a otros particulares; empresas. Los acuerdos sobre cursos de agua y cuencas fluviales internacionales, es decir qué países se abastecen por sí mismos y qué países dependen de su vecino. Es decir, atender a la importancia de la cooperación entre los gobiernos, las empresas privadas y las organizaciones de la sociedad civil. Atender a las políticas que las organizaciones internacionales están desarrollando frente al problema como es el caso de la UNESCO.

Webs de referencia

Estudiantes Lope de Vega

Management policyyes.jpg

E.S.O. 4B: Romy, Juan José, Iris, Carlos, Luis

1st Newsletter Oct 2009 LdV

We're going to talk about water management. Which politics apply the different countries for the water's management regarding the abundant possibilities of water-consumption: domestic use, agriculture, tourism, energy, etc. We also are going to investigate if these politics are sustainable or not. Our targets are to find out:

  1. How international organizations, like UNESCO, solve water management problems.
  2. What are the economic, social, political and geographic consequences of water management.
  3. International agreements about water catchment and river basins; so which countries are self supporting and which countries depend on others. So, analyse the importance of cooperation between governments, private companies and civil organizations.

2nd Newsletter Nov 2009 LdV

We have been looking for information about different countries and places, such as Australia, Spain and Gaza, to compare the different ways they manage the water. We also want to explain and develop our information about the consequences of bad water management, on a world wide level.

Desarrollo del tema

06 Nov 2009: Presentación del grupo 02 - Políticas de gestión del agua


Water is the base of life, and the actual situation is the scarcity.

Water in numbers

  • There are more than 1,000 million people that don't have the proper installations to obtain water and 2,400 million have no recourse to clean water in our planet.
  • Every day 6,000 people in our planet die, and the majority are children under five years of age, because they are victims of the diseases caused by water problems.
  • 70% of the water used for human consumption is destined to agriculture and mostly for irrigation.
  • 50% of the wetlands in the world have desapeared since 1900
  • Between 1900 and 2001 the earth was the victim of 2,200 natural disasters related to water.

Source: Naciones Unidas/WWAP, Informe sobre el Desarrollo de los Recursos Hídricos en el Mundo, “Agua para todos, agua para la vida”. París, Nueva York y Oxford, Ediciones UNESCO y Berghahn Books

What is the politic of water management?

It is the policy designed to distribute and administer water resources.

How is water managed in the different continents?

These are the objectives of the European comunity respect water environment:

  • Make sure that everyone, especially the less fortunate, are provided with enough water and of a good quality
  • Guarantee sustainable water management
  • Guarantee equal distrubution of water among the different categories that use water


Oceania is a continent with an area of 9,008,458 km2 and has 32,000,000 inhabitants. It is the smallest continent of the planet. The rivers of Oceania are generally short and without importance, and only Australia has some rivers that are worth mentioning.

To continued we're going to talk about Australia, because it's a big country that doesn't have much water:


Australia is one of the driest countries in the world because 70% of the surface is arid and only 6.7% is cultivable. Joined to the serious droughts of the last years, water is a scarce commodity. The fluvial basins that provides 34% of the agricultural production of the country, could be lost affecting the supply of food and exports. The droughts cause irreversible damages if the basin of the two of the most important rivers of the country don't receive water.

Warragamba Dam is the main source of water supply for Sydney.
  • 1.Agriculture and farming only contribute 3% of the GDP, but they consume 70% of available water. The droughts in the last years have forced a reorganization of the sector, deleting crops in zones that do nothing to protect water resources and introducing innovations in the irrigation systems.
  • 2.South Australia's goverment gave adelaideaqua to build a desalination plant, that will have a daily production capacity of 150.000m3/day. The estimated cost of the project plus the construction of a pipe pf distribution of desalinated water will cost 700,000,000€. The stant of the construction is scheduled for December 2010.

The water will be desalined by a process of pre-treatment with reduced needs of chemical treatments and will have an diffuser to concentrate saline that ensures the adequate mixture that respects the marine balance.

What do profesionals think of Australia?

«We invest a lot of money in research and development to develop new technologies and now, we are in a position to better handle the weather and store water for dry seasons»

Scott Michael, National Federation of farmers in Australia


Asia is the largest continent (45 million km2) and with the most inhabitants (60% of the human population). In Asia there are 40 rivers and watersheds shared by several countries. Environmental policies can not be taken locally, they must be global and understand the complexity of ecological systems. Civil society in environmental governance is still underdeveloped.

To continued we're going to talk about Gaza, because besides having many political problems, also has problems with water:

The Gaza strip

The Gaza stript is one of the most densely poblated places in the world. Over a million and half Palestinians live in a corridor of dry earth which is only 40 kilometres long and between 6 and 12 kilometres wide.

Boy getting water from a well.
It rains little, and more people means more need for water. Gaza has no rivers or lakes (the only one that it had is dry) and depends on an underground aquifer that stretches 120 kilometres along the Mediterranean coast. This source is doomed to over population, because Palestinians extract 150 million m3 from these wells every years.

The well's salinity isn't due to the instrusions of the Mediterranean, but occurs because of an influx of salt water flowing mainly underground from Israel to the coast. A creation of a line of wells was proposed that pumps the saline water to a desalination plant, so that could reverse this process and make more purified water that will reach the Gaza strip. A plant like that could completely change the dialy lives of Palestinians who would enjoy good quality water. In some aras, there isn't any infrastructures to manage water, and many who illegally connect pipes from their homes to a network of canals to stone rainwater.

What do proffesionals think about The Gaza Strip?

«Before we said that it was a shame that water flows to the sea and is not being used for agriculture. Now we pray for it to return to the sea»

«We have noticed an increase in people suffering from kidney diseases from water contaminated with toxins, as well as babies born with an unnatural blue tinge»

Munther Shoblak, Manager General de la CMWU (Gaza's Coastal Municipal Water of Utility)


Currently, more than 1200 million Africans lack safe drinking water and some 2,700 billion haven't a proper sanitation system. It is estimated that this number will increase to 3,400 million by 2025. There are unjust and unbelievable situations that people living in Kenya, pay up to five times more per liter than the average American citizen. The water supply situation in Africa is much more complicated in rural areas (70% of the population) than in urban areas. 60% of Africa's food production comes from rainfed agriculture. However, few countries can afford to carry out the financial investment required to install efficient irrigation systems. The rainfall distribution is not balanced. There are much higher rainfall in Central Africa and West Africa than in South Africa, North and Horn of Africa.

To continued we're going to talk about Egypt:


In Egypt most of it's land area is desert and agriculture is limited to the narrow fertile valley of the Nile.

The Nile River near Aswan.

Water resources The Egyptian territory comprises the following river basins:

  • The Northern Interior Basin (52%). A sub-basin of the Northern Interior Basin is the Qattara Depression.(1%)
  • The Nile Basin (33%)
  • The Mediterranean Coast Basin (6%)
  • The Northeast Coast Basin (8%)

Nile Waters Agreement between Egypt and Sudan in 1959 The agreement was based on the average flow of the Nile during the 1900-1959 period, which was 84 km3/yr at Aswan. Average annual evaporation and other losses from the Aswan High Dam and reservoir (Lake Nasser) were estimated at 10 km3/yr, leaving a net usable flow of 74 km3/yr, of which 18.5 km3/yr was allocated to Sudan and 55.5 km3/yr to Egypt.

Water Report no.29, 2005 FAO

South America

South America is a privileged region because it has the most abundant supply of fresh water on the planet, about 18,000 km3/year (according to FAO). Two of the five major river basins in the world are in South America: the Amazon and the Parana-La Plata. It also has got numerous basins along The Andes, that forms a good hydrographic system that supports millions of people.

Water is clearly a comparative advantage for countries, being an essential factor for human development and growth of economies.

However, it is important to call attention to the problems of South America. There is still an important sector of the population that doesn't have access to improved water sources and adequate sanitation services.

Cases such as Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru need special attention, but it is also a crucial issue for the population in Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Colombia.

The South American region, requires an integrated management of water resources as a factor that enhance development and ensure its sustainability in the long term.

The social inequity that characterizes this part of the world is reflected in limited access to clean water and sanitation.

All countries must work to reach the Millennium Development Goals call for United Nations in this area until 2015.

Some areas already face water critical overexploitation situations: in the Caribbean of Colombia and Venezuela, in the Brazilian Northeast, the Pacific coastal desert of Peru-Chile and in different sectors of seven countries that crosses the Andes (particularly in areas densely populated areas).

This often involves the need to seek water sources farther and farther away from population centers.

To continued we're going to talk about México, because we think apart of beeing a turistic country, it has also a lot of problems related with water:


Water management in Mexico can be analyzed from two aspects: On one hand, from the relationship between water resources, the level of contribution to national economy and population concentration. On the other hand, there is evidence of abuse of water in big cities.

Watersheds of Mexico. Basins in green drain to the Pacific, in brown to the Gulf of Mexico, and in yellow to the Caribbean Sea. Grey indicates interior basins that do not drain to the sea.
1.Contribution to the economy, availability of water resources and population concentration.

Mexico currently has got 103.263.388 habitants and 653 aquifers, both heavily concentrated in certain regions. More than 79% of the population corresponds to the urban population. Of this, 45% are settled in just 23 cities in north and central Mexico, an area in where the 104 overexploited aquifers are situated. On the other hand, 4.9% of the urbanized population lives in 8 cities in the southeast, which has a high concentration of water resources.

2.Abuse of water

Mexico City has the highest economic importance and population nationwide. The high concentration of population explains why the six aquifers of Mexico City are highly exploited, which in some cases exceed 100%(Such is the case of the Texcoco aquifer, whose exploitation is estimated at 850%). Because of the poor planning and the old urban water infrastructure, leaking water into Mexico City reached between 35% and 40%. The overexploitation of the aquifer has caused a collapse of four meters from the historical city center (UNESCO 2006). The cities of Chihuahua, Monterrey and Guadalajara are facing the same situation.

(La cronique des Amérique, Luzma Fabiola Nava 2006)

North America

In North America there are three very specific cases: First, the disparity between water-rich areas and poor areas in water, not linked to population concentrations. Second, the physical alteration due to water pollution. And finally the price or tariff issues. Water rates that are recorded in North America are very low. Some of the objectives of North America are to prevent the contamination of fresh water and reduce wastage of water (water parks, fountains and so on ...)

To continued we're going to talk about New York because it's a very famous tourist city and draws our attention:

New York

Kaaterskill Falls on Spruce Creek near Palenville, New York. Highest falls in New York. Two separate falls total 260 feet.

New York gets drinking water from the Catskill Mountains. It has two sources of supply, as are the Hudson and Delaware rivers. A tunnel of 170 km long, brings water to the city being the longest underwater pipeline in the world. New York consumes more than 6,000 million liters of water daily. As a result of this source with a natural filtration process, New York is one of the top five U.S. cities with drinking water pure enough that doesn't need treatment purification through water treatment plants.


Northern countries, having a low water stress and low water consumption per capita, it's current prices are significantly high. On the other side, the south, with high water stress and an equally high per capita consumption, maintain tariffs which are lower than in northern countries, and this is also the root cause of their systems distribution are also much poorer. It is thus concluded that it is precisely in where water is more scarce, it's managed worse.

To continue we're going to talk about Spain, because it's the country where we live:


Presa Hidroeléctrica en Grandas de Salime (Asturias).

Spain has a total area of 504,750 km2 and a mean annual runoff 111.000hm3 year. The average rainfall decreases from north to south and from west to east being the southeastern corner which has less precipitation. The management of water in Spain has been a major part in economic development policy of the twentieth century during which the number of dams increased from about 60 to over a thousand. Spain has a significant amount of groundwater, 27,000 hm3, which is being withdrawn for agricultural use (75%), urban (20%) and industrial (5%). The extraction of groundwater has increased in recent years of 500 hm3 in 1900 to 5600 hm 3 in 1996. Irrigation gets 50% of final agricultural production.

Spain has the highest number of the biggest dams in the world per capita, the number of dams currently serving are over a thousand, with a total storage capacity close to 54,000 hm3.

Around 60% of the population is supplied by private companies that operate through concessions by municipalities.The hydropower developments in Spain in recent decades has always been growing although its participation in the total power produced has been decreasing (92% in 1940 vs. 18% in 2001).

However, particularly droughts remain serious problems in the country, the last occurring in 2008. The pollution of water resources is also a problem: only 11% of the Spanish river waters are of acceptable quality.

Worldwide consequences of poor water management

According to a United Nations report of 2006, <<there is enough water for everyone>>, but access has been hampered by corruption and mismanagement.

Over 2,200,000 people died in 2000 as a result of waterborne diseases. 1,200,000 people have no potable water.

Liters per capita per day

According to the World Health Organization, the biological minimum need to human survival is 5 litres in 24 hours.

Each habitant has...

  • in the USA: 425 l/day
  • in Madagascar: 10 l/day
  • in Italy: 237 l/day
  • in France: 150 l/day

  • Estimation of a Western family: 300 l/day
  • Estimate of African family: 20 l/day

The poor water management aggravates the effects of drought.

Water is a global and crucial issue, it is, directly and indirectly, the first cause of death and disease on the world. Water is essential for the production of food from agriculture. More than a billion of people do not have access to drinking water, rural and peri urban areas being mostly faced by this issue. More then 30 % of natural catastrophes, 50 % of death, and 31 % of costs are due to floods. Current investments need to be doubled over the next 25 years in order to respond to economic development. Half of the large rivers and lakes suffer pollution, half of humid zones disappeared, biodiversity dramatically decreased in surface waters, groundwater is more and more overexploited and polluted. The demand is increasing but water resources are degrading, with a possible increase of this negative trend.

Economic consequences

  • Increase the household expenditure, since the lack of water compelled to buy it

Political consequences

  • Existence of numerous armed conflicts in which water is a key factor.

Social consequences

  • Lack of awareness of the people about the importance of water
  • People living in developing countries have increased fatigue and less time to spend with family because they have to travel long distances for water. There are fewer children in school because they have to use part of their time collecting water for her family.
  • Aumento de la tensión y disminución de la autostima debido a la preocupacion de agua para vivir (hace falta traducirlo)


Worldwide water consumption.

It is the policy designed to distribuye and administer water resources. The main cause of poor water management is the overexplotation and pollution of aquifers and wells, the abuse of water and the relationship between water resources, the level of contribution to national economy and population concentration.

One of the most used solution of the goverments is the construction of a desalination plant.

Temas 2009/2010 en Lope de Vega

Temas 2009/2010 en Lope de Vega:

01. Obtención del agua | 02. Políticas de gestión del agua | 03. Aumento de la población | 04. Deforestación | 05. Desertificación | 06. Sequía | 07. Salud humana | 08. Efecto invernadero | 09. Lluvia ácida | 10. Derretimiento de los glaciares y polos | 11. Alteración del ciclo del agua | 12. El agua como el mayor conflicto geopolítico del siglo XXI