Raúl García Hémonnet/Ramón Machuca
More than 20% of the Spanish territory is in an emergency situation due to water scarcity, according to data from the Ministry of Ecological Transition. We have asked the expert about this situation, who has suggested that some of the long-term preventive measures could involve studying resource management planning to see if they respond “to a social need. In recent years, the influx of tourism has meant that more resources are needed to satisfy these demands.”
In addition to planning, the coordinator of the Water Resources degree of the URJC proposes two other alternatives, such as desalination "Barcelona specifically has that advantage that it is in a coastal area, and we have a sufficient volume of water to use these techniques, although they have their problems in what has to do with the energy cost and waste management.” Carreño has pointed out that this technology is already used in many parts of the world and work is being done to improve the energy efficiency of these systems.
Another alternative, pointed out by the teacher, has to do with the reuse of water for drinking purposes. Although “it is a solution that in Spain still has a lot of reluctance, as I recently read, only 2% of the population was willing to drink reused drinking water, there is still progress in that sense. When we manage to make the population see that the quality of the water reused after being treated is similar to that coming from precipitation or to what may be in a reservoir, the perception will change,” says Carreño.
Carreño has located the causes of the water shortage in Catalonia and other places in Spain in what is called 'climatic drought,' which is fundamentally produced by a sharp decrease in rainfall, which causes there to be less water to fill the reservoirs. In the case of Catalonia this comes after a series of years in which the usual rainfall is not occurring and after an increase in demand for human consumption."
If we do not act quickly, points out the URJC professor, “since Spain has a Mediterranean climate and characteristic of this type of climate is having cycles of wet years and cycles of dry years. This is going to be more and more recurrent and we have to come up with solutions (like those noted above) not now, when we are in a critical situation in which we have to act quickly and effectively and sometimes in a way that is quite dissonant with the needs of the population, if not in those moments when we do not have problems managing access to water resources.”
Water, a factor of geostrategic tension
The coordinator of the Water Resources degree has also reflected on how water is already part of armed conflicts “in the conflict between Israel and Palestine it is a fundamental element. Preventing access can be an element of war.”
The degree in Water Resources Management offers comprehensive training
The Rey Juan Carlos University is a pioneer in offering a degree in this subject, despite the fact that other universities already have master's degrees. “At the URJC we propose a degree because the approach or capacity we may have to face the problems that water poses has to be multidisciplinary. There are different profiles associated with the management of Water Resources,” says Carreño. In the degree, for four years, students will receive training in which the subject is approached from different fields. This, says the coordinator of the degree, “will make them perfectly understand aspects as diverse as the exploration of water resources, the application of technologies for the treatment, purification and purification of water, sustainable management, etc.
In short, training with high added value for all those profiles that the water sector, in constant growth, is demanding from universities.