The Ministry of Environment plans to restructure the old mining wells into underground reservoirs among the 15 action alternatives that the Confederación Hidrográfica del Norte considers for the improvement and supply of water in the central area of Asturias. The water organization has prepared the tender basing on the study of alternatives to improve the supply in the center of the region, which starts with a total budget of 347,326 euros and a deadline of 17 months.
The document justifying the tender contains fifteen possible alternatives that contribute to guarantee the water needs of a total population estimated at 907,000 inhabitants, who represent 83 percent of the population of Asturias and are concentrated in just over a quarter of the total area of the region, about 2,869 square kilometers, which include the urban areas of Gijón, Oviedo, Avilés, Mieres, Langreo and bordering areas that include Bimenes, Nava, Cabranes, Villaviciosa, Candamo, Soto del Barco and Muros de Nalón.
The Confederación Hidrográfica del Cantábrico recognizes that the resources currently available "exceed the sum of all the demands of the area but their irregular distribution throughout the year compromises the supply to the population and the industry in the area".
Among the fifteen alternatives studied so far, we can find the reconversion of the mining wells into underground reservoirs together with the construction of five new dams in Caleao (Alto del Nalón), two in the Narcea channel, in the Carbayón stream (Piloña river basin) and in the Infierno river in Riofabar. The aforementioned report also lists among the range of possibilities the extension of the Rioseco reservoir in the upper Nalón; the reconversion of uses of La Barca reservoir in Narcea; the use of the Arbón and Doiras reservoirs, both on the Navia river; the use of conventional groundwater; the use of a possible underground reservoir in Rioseco and the calcareous coal-bearing aquifers; desalination processes, relaxation of environmental and concessional flows and improvements in demand management.
The inclusion of these possible alternatives in such list does not mean that they will be executed simultaneously; today, it is only a list. The purpose of the informative study is to perform a detailed analysis of the five most appropriate alternatives, in addition to preparing a preliminary draft and formulating conclusions with their subsequent proposal.
It should be remembered that the construction of a reservoir in Caleao was for years a "classic" item in the political agenda of Asturias due to the strong rejection of Izquierda Unida to a project then supported by the PSOE, and especially by the current Senator Maria Luisa Carcedo.
The successful bidder of the contract, according to the specifications required by the Confederación Hidrográfica del Cantábrico, must provide a team of at least three people, including a civil engineer with hydraulics, hydrology and land management knowledge, and a graduate with experience in the development of administrative processes of information and public participation and geographic information systems.
The Principality will participate in a "constructive and active" way in the process that the Ministry of the Environment has just opened with the technical assistance to study the alternatives that guarantee the supply of water to the central area of Asturias.
The regional Minister of Infrastructure and Environment, Fernando Lastra, guaranteed the participation of the regional administration in the answers that the State studies as the most appropriate within the framework of the National Hydrological Plan, which will allocate 80 million euros to Asturias in two phases: first 20 million euros in the period 2016-2021 and the remaining 60 million euros between the year 2021 and 2027.
"The instrument that ensures the supply of water to the center of Asturias is called Cadasa," regional minister Lastra said, who stressed that the technical assistance that has been put out to tender by the Ministry of the Environment aims to study alternatives that "increase that guarantee of supply to the central area of Asturias".
In fact, the bidding documents for this contract expressly refer to the main hydraulic systems currently in place for water supply to the central area of Asturias, which are: the supply system of the Cadasa consortium, the use of water from the Narcea river and the supply systems to Gijón, Oviedo, Mieres and Aller, "to which other types of infrastructures such as the mining network of Hunosa must be added, which have the possibility to play some role in the analysis of alternatives", according to the Confederación Hidrográfica.