Evidence exists that the extractions in this river basin are over that authorized, via different methods of monitoring carried out by the CHG (by means of remote sensing, 226,855 ha are considered to have been irrigated in 2003). Declarations of the CAP and estimations of consumption by the Junta de Comunidades de Castilla-La Mancha (JCCM) have also indicated this.

The interests that struggle for control of water in this territory are varied i.e. its uses, organizing structures, areas affected, and social perceptions in terms of how the water should be used. This diversity in complication is not quite as problematic as the non-existence of an adequate forum for the debate of these interests; this does not permit for an agreement to be reached that would foster the most sustainable use of existing water resources.

Consequently, the socioeconomic development of this zone, with difficult viable economic alternatives to those of the agricultural sector, makes necessary and urgent a plan that considers all of the mitigating factors and limitations of the area. The Special Plan of the Alto Guadiana is currently in the editing phase.

2.2.2 Water Exploitation and Income Compensation Plans

The CHJ and the CHG have taken different routes in an effort to solve the problem of overexploitation of their aquifers. In the case of the Júcar river basin, the Water Exploitation Plan (Plan de Explotación, PE) has been opted for, whereas in the Guadiana river basin, due to the limited success of the aforementioned, the agricultural Income Compensation Plan (Plan de Compensación de Rentas, PCR) has been utilized.

The Water Exploitation Plan of the HU 08.29 Mancha Oriental

The objective of the PE of the HU 08.29 is to annually limit the water consumption of each farm in order to achieve the sustainable management of the aquifer. It is a self-regulation measure that irrigators are offered and is approved at the annual assembly, which takes place before the beginning of each season.

The first step to devise a PE is to know what the available water volume is. Periodically, monitoring of the progression of the network of the piezometers of the aquifer is performed.

Second, it is necessary to know which are the irrigated land farms and to assign each farmer a certain volume of water. The distribution is not made equitably among them, as it is based on the time at which the farm converted to irrigation and the volume of water that was historically used. A study of the area of irrigated land and the types of crops that have existed in the area was completed for three different periods (Fig. 13): before 1986, when the Water Law came into effect; the period of 1986-1997, which includes the time elapsed between the approval of the Spanish Water Law and that of the Hydrological Plan of the Jucar; and finally, those areas where irrigation was established after 1997. To each of the areas a volume of water per hectare has been assigned. The areas of irrigation that were established after 1997 can only be maintained as long as they utilize a portion of the water designated to land that has been previously irrigated. In this case, the area is considered as newly irrigated land and is not assigned a volume of water for irrigation. The tools necessary for the development of these tasks have been the Inventory of Irrigated lands and Digitized Rural land Registry and of particular interest, the data collected by remote sensing on crops that were irrigated in each period.

Figure 13: Example of irrigated land progression via remote sensing techniques (JCRMO).

19B5 1997

Figure 13: Example of irrigated land progression via remote sensing techniques (JCRMO).

The third step consists of assigning each crop an average water requirement for irrigation. The Irrigation Advisory Service (IAS), belonging to the Provincial Technical Institute of Agriculture in Albacete (Instituto Técnico Agronómico Provincial de Albacete, ITAP), has been the agency that traditionally calculates the water requirements for irrigation of crops in the territorial environment of HU 08.29 (Table 12).

Table 12: Irrigation requirements of crops, according to the Water Exploitation Plan of

2007 of the HU 08.29 Mancha Oriental

Table 12: Irrigation requirements of crops, according to the Water Exploitation Plan of

2007 of the HU 08.29 Mancha Oriental

(m3 ha-1)

(m3 ha-1)

Sugar beet












Maize 700


Lettuce, spinach, broccoli...






Maize 400




Forage maize


Chinese Garlic






Forage sorghum


Green pea


Tomato, pepper...


Forage turnip


Permanent meadow


Vetch forage


Sweet maize


Winter cereal like forage


Sunflower may


Almond, olive, vineyard


Mulberry garlic


Grain vetch






White garlic




Ray-grass (October-May)




Finally, the farmer should draft a document in which he indicates the proximate distribution of cultivations in plots of his farm. This document must be approved by technicians of the farmers association (Junta Central de Regantes de la Mancha Oriental, JCRMO) before the start of the irrigation season. The technicians must verify that the total volume of potentially usable water by the farmer is equal to or lower than the volume assigned for that season.

The PE would not have any validity if adequate mechanisms of control could not be established to insure the correct use of the resource. This task is quite complicated given that the JCRMO must monitor more than 105,000 ha of irrigated land in an area of 8,500 km2. Since 2001, the JCRMO has utilized information gathered by remote sensing, in real time, provided by the Remote Sensing Section of the Institute of Regional Development (Instituto de Desarrollo Regional, IDR). The IDR supplies images to the JCRMO that have been classified by crop group, before they have been harvested. This situation permits the verification of what was agreed upon in the PE, presented by the irrigator, and what he has actually cultivated. Likewise, it permits the detection of irrigable lands in plots that are not permitted to use water for irrigation.

For the cases in which a possible irregularity between the images of remote sensing and the PE is detected, the technicians of the JCRMO make a visit to the farm before harvesting. If the infraction is corroborated, sanctioning is initiated by the Irrigation Jury or the CHJ. It is helpful to indicate that, currently, the number of violators detected annually is low, being less than 10%. Figure 14 shows an example of how this inspection is performed in the field.

Figure 14: Verification of the data obtained by remote sensing (JCRMO).

The Income Compensation Plan in HU 04.04 And 04.06

As in the case of HU 08.29, the CHG established a PE for HUs 04.04 and 04.06 of the Guadiana river basin. Contrary to the PE of HU 08.29, this measure was rejected by most of the farmers of these HU due to the reduction in income that it entailed.

In order to encourage acceptance of the PE by irrigators, in 1992 the PCR was approved for HUs 04.04 and 04.06. The plan established economic aid to farmers for a period of 10 years. The objective was to reduce the volume of water dedicated to irrigation, through the replacement of crops of greatest water requirements by those of lower water consumption. In this manner, they attempted to balance agriculture of irrigated land with the conservation of wetlands.

From a global view point, the application of the PCR has appeared to be a temporary solution. Nevertheless, this action has contributed to the disappearance of some of the crops of greatest water requirements. The farmers have partially modified their crop alternatives by incorporating those, normally of a horticultural nature, that generate high income with less water consumption.

Figure 15 compares the annual progression of the volume of water extracted from HU 04.04 with the area that received aid from the PCR since 1992. In the period from 1996 to 1999, the combination of the PCR, along with the imposed restrictions of the PE, and favorable precipitation, improved the adverse situation. Throughout these years, extractions were reduced to 250 hm3 year-1, with an average recovery of the piezometric levels of 2.52 m year-1. However, the onset of a new period of drought, and the end of economic aid in 2001, has again prompted the reduction in piezometric levels.


19)800 19)822 1984 199866 19)858 19)900 1992 19)9)4 19)9)6 19918 2000 2002

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