• Mar Menor. From Mediterranean paradise to animal cemetery
  • Environmental crisis.Verified resignations, disagreements and accusations in the scientific committee that studies the Mar Menor
  • Murcia.The Prosecutor's Office will investigate the discovery of thousands of fish and crustaceans killed by the cold drop

If we had a videotape of the history of the Mar Menor and rewound it in time, we could see the moment when a farmer in the area irrigates his land in 1970. With permission to extract water from a well, he moistens the land , pay your fields and collect the harvest. If we follow the nutrients and pollutants that it produces through the earth, we would see them leave at this moment, in 2019, crossing the last meters of an aquifer and reaching the Murcia lagoon.

If we were to watch the full movie, we would witness the forty years that have come behind, with an environmental impact marked by unscrupulous urban development, excessive intensive agriculture, the construction of artificial beaches, navigable canals, marinas, and the funding of hundreds of ships destroying the delicate sea meadows. The Mar Menor has not been saved from the heavy metal runoff from the mines. Everything is over in the salt lagoon. The four decades of accumulated spills around it threaten their survival.

The black figures of the Mar Menor are counted by thousands of hectares. The Segura Hydrographic Confederation speaks of 9,500 illegal hectares of irrigation (outside the authorized perimeter of irrigation or without permission). The figure that handles the Prosecutor's Office is 20,000. Each year, between 35 and 40 cubic hectometers of nutrients go to their waters , also besieged by 446 pig farms. Next to the wetland, 786,864 pigs generate 5,800 tons of nitrogen annually. Directly on it anchor 2,300 vessels of 10 marinas, 11 swamps and 56 anchorages. To cross it they have 24 navigation channels. Hundreds of tourist developments (252 only in La Manga, according to a 2013 study by the UNED) and an old and deteriorated sanitation network complete the scene.

The data has been provided by the Ministry for Ecological Transition (Miteco) after a meeting held on Thursday by the Monitoring Committee of the Zero Discharge Plan (the working group that also studies a plan for the elimination of pollutants that are dumped in the Mar Menor) with representatives of the Government and the Region of Murcia. It has agreed a road map with a series of emergency measures to immediately stop the most dangerous aspects that affect the lagoon.

The document, which includes measures that were already included in the Zero Discharge Plan, includes actions for repair, control, monitoring and sanctions for, for example, the 641 files opened this year in the Segura Basin. "Many of the actions of the Zero Discharge Plan, even if they are implemented, will no longer be effective until a long time, since you have to visit works and write projects. That is why, and in the event of an emergency, you have to start working now. The roadmap only marks the priorities, "a representative of the Miteco told EL MUNDO.

As this medium has verified, except for the repair of a pipe in the Rambla del Albujón (planned in two weeks) or the mapping by remote sensing and analysis of the area (one month), the document does not provide specific dates and this is one of the reasons for discontent of the government of Murcia. "The regional government hoped that the meeting would serve as a starting point to begin acting immediately," said a representative of the Ministry of Water, Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Environment (CARM) of this autonomous community. From CARM the concern is also focused on the approval by the State of a debt budget to be able to immediately assume (and if necessary) the actions that correspond to the Miteco.

Measures to stop spills

The roadmap presented by Miteco proposes "in the short term" to identify and sanction the cultivation plots that make illegal use of water; close private evacuation stations that do not comply with the norm and control and emissaries that pour into the Mar Menor. As for the actions to retain and eliminate the entry of nutrients to the lagoon, the eyes are on the mouth of the Rambla de El Albujón and the spills of overflows from the sewerage and purification systems. For this, it is intended to create peripheral wetlands to the lagoon and establish natural filters that retain pollutants.

Among the measures that the Region of Murcia would have to apply would be, among others, the improvement of agricultural and livestock practices, the monitoring of disciplinary proceedings, the creation of green filters in plots or the restoration of old mining areas. As for the planning of the territory, an update and revision of the urban plan of the municipalities in the area , the improvement of urban sanitation systems and treatment plants is planned . On the marinas, the document proposes the possibility of replacing or eliminating those infrastructures that cause the greatest impacts.

For fishing, the State contemplates aid of 500,000, co-financed with the Autonomous Community of Murcia, for those who stopped fishing from October 15 until the end of the year 2019. Finally, in terms of environmental protection, although El Mar Minor is a wetland inscribed in the Ramsar list, it is part of the Natura 2000 Network, it is a Site of Community Importance (SCI), a Special Protection Area for Birds (ZEPA) and a Specially Protected Area of ​​Interest for the Mediterranean (ZEPIM ), the commission has emphasized in its writing that "the existence of these figures has been revealed as insufficient to preserve the protected area".

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