Tablas de Daimiel National Park and groundwater conflicts
ABSTRACT: Located in the Upper Guadiana basin, the Tablas de Daimiel National Park represents a paradigmatic illustration of the effects of abstractions on a groundwater dependant wetland. The groundwater silent revolution of the second part of the 20th century led to the dramatic reduction of flooded area and numerous associated ecological damages, converting the area as a laboratory of policies to both regulate the extractions (for instance, the declaration of over-exploitation in 1994) and to limit the economic and social impacts on the local economy, which relies on irrigated agriculture. This situation leads also to a generalized informal use of groundwater. We focus on the last attempt of regulation, the Special Plan for Upper Guadiana, as an attempt to reorganize the water rights structure and reduce extractions to obtain water for ecological flows to the Tablas de Daimiel. However, its cost has limited its full implementation and only the results of the first phase (up to June 2011) are assessed using the water footprint accounting methodology. A substantial possible reduction of 10% of the extractions and opportunities for a new basis for the management beyond a purely quantitative view are identified. There are new opportunities open like: greater emphasis on quality products, sharpen up monitoring system and sanctioning campaigns, a more diversified economy which also includes other sectors like agritourism, ecotourism and renewable energy.