Illegal looting of Spain’s water

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Illegal looting of Spain’s water
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Illegal looting of Spain’s water. Theft from Spain’s four largest aquifers is equivalent to 65,000 Olympic-size swimming pools.

The WWF has denounced the theft of water from Spain’s largest aquifers. The NGO has been investigating the theft of water from the aquifers of Daimiel, Doñana, Mar Menor and Los Arenales.

These are Spain’s most important aquifers. The natural water sources are being illegally looted. The stolen water is being used to irrigate crops. The area of crops being watered is around 1.5 times the size of Madrid.

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The WWF revealed the scandal on Tuesday, October 19. The organisation has spent an entire year investigating water theft across Spain. The investigation focused on the four “most overexploited” aquifers in the country. These are the Las Tablas de Daimiel, Doñana, Mar Menor and Los Arenales water sources.

According to the WWF report accessed by 20 minutes: “Water theft is one of the most widespread and unpunished environmental crimes in Spain.”

The organisation states that this is a: “serious problem in Spain, fuelled by the expectations created by the support for irrigation in agricultural policy and the inaction and permissiveness of the various administrations in recent decades”.


According to the investigation in these four areas alone around 88,645 hectares of land are watered using stolen water.

According to the WWF: “what is really happening in these four aquifers is that, systematically and with total impunity, plots of land are being irrigated without authorisation to extract water”.


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Alex Glenn is a reporter for Spain’s largest English-speaking newspaper, Euro Weekly News. Formerly she worked in the NHS for 15 years until relocating to Spain in 2018. She loves the Spanish lifestyle, language and culture and spent several years learning Spanish before moving to Spain for a better quality of life. She has made her home in the mountains in Almeria, where she loves being part of a rural community that has a mix of both expats and Spanish residents. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, reading and exploring the area where she lives.

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