From Wed Mar 14 10:47:57 2001
Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2001 08:00:02 -0600 (CST)
From: Mark Graffis <>
Subject: Protesters urge Spain to scrap water plan
Article: 116741
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

Protesters urge Spain to scrap water plan

Reuters, 13 March 2001

MADRID—More than 100,000 Spaniards marched through Madrid on Sunday in the latest of a string of protests against a government plan to drain water from the northern Ebro river to aid the arid southeast.

Around 120,000 protesters took to the streets, police estimated, but environmental groups and unions behind the protest put the figure as high as 400,000.

“No to the hydrological plan! It's time for a rational use of water,” read one of the banners carried by protesters.

Ecologists say the $21 billion plan will endanger the environment and wildlife in the Ebro area, but the government argues it is vital for Spain's development and complies with environmental standards.

Most protesters had travelled from the northeastern regions of Catalonia and Aragon, the areas most affected by the project, approved by the government in February after 15 years of bickering.

In Zaragoza, the capital of Aragon, thousands of protesters also flooded the central square.

Ecologists have argued the plan violates EU rules and would ruin the habitat of the Iberian lynx, a species on the edge of extinction. Local agricultural groups say small farms would disappear.

But farmers from the parched area of Almeria and Murcia, set to benefit from the scheme, argue that current flooding in the north showed there was water to spare.

“We are not talking about taking water from areas which are short. They’ve had so much rain the floods are hard to control and so it seems logical,” one southeastern farmer told the Antena 3 television channel.