The extended water footprint of the Guadiana river basin
ABSTRACT: The present analysis is focused on the Spanish side of the semi-arid, transboundary Guadiana river basin. In the basin, the main consuming sector for green water (rainwater stored in the soil as soil moisture) and blue water (surface water and groundwater) is agriculture, accounting for about 95% of total water consumption. Within this sector, high virtual-water crops with low economic values are widespread in the studied Upper and Middle Guadiana regions, particularly cereals with low blue water economic productivity. In particular, the Upper Guadiana basin is among the most significant in Spain in terms of conflicts between agriculture, with almost no food (virtual water) import, and the conservation of rivers and groundwater-dependent wetlands. On the other hand, in the Lower Guadiana basin and Tinto, Odiel and Piedras (TOP) river basins domain, where vegetables and crops are grown under plastic, the blue water economic productivity values are much higher, using both surface water and groundwater resources. The quantity of crops and the amount of employment generated in the whole Guadiana basin are already producing more crops and jobs per drop. The aim now is to move towards a policy of more cash and nature per drop, especially in the Upper and Middle Guadiana basin.