MILLIONS of fruit trees could die within the week across the Almanzora Valley.
An emergency irrigation request has been sent to Madrid by Almeria’s Mesa del Agua water board.
If the water doesn’t arrive in time an estimated four million clementine, peach, plum and nectarine trees face imminent death.
Millions have already begun to lose their leaves and fruits are far smaller than usual. The problem is most acute to the north of Huercal-Overa, where farms have entered ‘zero supply’ stage, receiving no water whatsoever.
Farmers have resigned themselves to a disastrous harvest that will struggle to pay the bills. But the death of millions of trees would be an environmental and financial catastrophe for the valley.
“If the government does nothing to help it will mean the ruin of many families and the end of millions of trees that were planted decades ago,” said Mesa del Agua spokesman, Jose Antonio Fernandez.
The board has begged Madrid to approve the transfer of five cubic hectometres of water from the Negratin reservoir in Granada to its Almanzora counterpart.
The Villaricos desalination plant has been out of service since 2012. “Five years later, the government has not lifted a finger to defend the interests of Almanzora farmers,” said Fernandez, “despite the fact that they have offered to take over the desalination plant and repair it at their own expense.”