The desalination plant at Torrevieja was supposed to be the ‘jewel in the crown’ and the answer to the shortage of water in this area but it has stood idle since completion.
The issue was the last piece of the jigsaw - the two giant pipes needed to bring water to the plant from the sea and then return the waste water back. The port is managed by the Department of Infrastructure who were demanding too high a price to the State Corporation Mediterranean Basin Water SA, the company that developed the plant.
Now, five years after work began on the largest desalination plant in Europe, an agreement has been reached. The company will pay 1.2 million Euros per year, an estimated 5% of the revenue, to the Government in exchange for access.
Work began on the 25th of January with eleven trucks a day bringing rock from a quarry in Murcia to build the platform on which a reinforced concrete box will be constructed to house the tubes. The whole structure will then be covered with a boardwalk which will stretch out to the lighthouse. Although the constructors are working flat out to try and complete the work as quickly as possible, it is likely that there will be disruption on the Castaway beach during the tourist season.
The main hold up to the work was of course caused by a political clash between the socialist Government and the conservative controlled Generalit in Valencia with the government opposing the plant on environmental issues.
This area has, for some time, relied upon transfers of water from the Tajo to the Segura via the pipelines which run the other side of Orihuela. The regional government of Castilla-La Mancha have always opposed that arrangement which had to be renegotiated each year. Once the desalination plant is complete, it will be capable of producing 80 hectometres of drinking water per year which will mean that the area will no longer be reliant upon the Tajo/Segura transfer.