The Leaders visit Tancat de la Pipa, a pilot project to recover the waters of Albufera and their biodiversity
The Leaders travelled by high-speed train from Madrid to Valencia and even had a chance to visit the cockpit and learn about high-speed rail in Spain. Once in Valencia, representatives of the Júcar River Authority took the delegation to visit the Albufera National Park, where a pilot project is being developed to recover the lake’s water quality through a natural water treatment system.
The Albufera lake, the largest in Spain and designated as a Ramsar site (Wetlands of International Importance) was heavily polluted in the 70s due to the growth of its neighbouring towns, which dumped their waste in the lake, the rise of chemical industries in the area and the intensive use of fertilisers and pesticides on the adjoining rice paddies.
The project, named “Tancat de la Pipa” after the area where it is being carried out, has transformed rice paddies in the Albufera into a natural purifying plant: the water of the lake runs through a number of fresh water plant fields, called Green Filters, which purify it by absorbing the excess nutrients that lead to an accumulation of algae and, after a 10-day long process, the clean water is returned to the ecosystem.
The programme, developed by NGOs SEO/Birdlife and Acció Ecologista Agró with the support of the Júcar River Authority and the regional government, has managed to meet the water quality levels expected for 2020 and some species which disappeared in the 70s are being recovered, especially water plants which grow on the bottom of the lake and are crucial for the rest of the ecosystem.
The coordination between civil and government organisations is one of the main reasons for the programme’s success. Some universities have also participated by carrying out a number of studies on flora, fauna, water quality, etc. The Leaders asked for data great deal of additional information from those in charge of the Júcar River Authority and the Tancat de la Pipa project, from the crop volume of the rice paddies in the Albufera to the composition of mud and percentage of heavy metals on the bottom of the lake. They also compared this pilot project with lake cleaning initiatives carried out in India. At the end of the visit they congratulated the people responsible for the project on its success and were treated to a boat trip around a natural park that has been reborn after half a century of decay.