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Sticks and carrots to manage groundwater over-abstraction in La Mancha, Spain

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  • Closas, Alvar
  • Molle, François
  • Hernández-Mora, Nuria

Abstract

Over recent decades, groundwater-fed irrigation has sustained the social and economic development of La Mancha, Spain. Without much initial regulation and control, groundwater resources and aquifer levels decreased dramatically, threatening agriculture and also highly valuable groundwater-dependant wetland ecosystems. This paper presents as a historical analysis of the different policy tools used to manage and regulate groundwater abstraction in the Western Mancha Aquifer after Spain approved its 1985 Water Law. It analyses the panoply of control and management instruments laid out by the state to counter the resource depletion trend, demonstrating the necessity by regulatory bodies to complement soft incentives (carrots) with the threat of sanctions and groundwater access limitations (sticks). As this case study shows however, each policy modality has its legal and practical loopholes which can be negotiated and exploited by groundwater users to their own advantage. Improvements in groundwater levels starting in 2010 seem to be linked to aquifer recharge following an unprecedented wet cycle rather than the effectiveness of the policy tools.

Suggested Citation

  • Closas, Alvar & Molle, François & Hernández-Mora, Nuria, 2017. "Sticks and carrots to manage groundwater over-abstraction in La Mancha, Spain," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 194(C), pages 113-124.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:agiwat:v:194:y:2017:i:c:p:113-124
    DOI: 10.1016/j.agwat.2017.08.024
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Varela-Ortega, C., 2007. "Policy-driven determinants of irrigation development and environmental sustainability: a case study in Spain," IWMI Books, Reports H040612, International Water Management Institute.
    2. L. De Stefano & J.M. Fornés & J.A. López-Geta & F. Villarroya, 2015. "Groundwater use in Spain: an overview in light of the EU Water Framework Directive," International Journal of Water Resources Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 31(4), pages 640-656, December.
    3. Llamas, M. R. & Garrido, A., 2007. "Lessons from intensive groundwater use in Spain: economic and social benefits and conflicts," IWMI Books, Reports H040051, International Water Management Institute.
    4. Lucia De Stefano & Pedro Martínez-Santos & Fermín Villarroya & Daniel Chico & Luis Martínez-Cortina, 2013. "Easier Said Than Done? The Establishment of Baseline Groundwater Conditions for the Implementation of the Water Framework Directive in Spain," Water Resources Management: An International Journal, Published for the European Water Resources Association (EWRA), Springer;European Water Resources Association (EWRA), vol. 27(7), pages 2691-2707, May.
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    Cited by:

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    2. Jean-Daniel Rinaudo & Guillermo Donoso, 2019. "State, market or community failure? Untangling the determinants of groundwater depletion in Copiapó (Chile)," International Journal of Water Resources Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(2), pages 283-304, March.
    3. Rouillard, Josselin & Rinaudo, Jean-Daniel, 2020. "From State to user-based water allocations: An empirical analysis of institutions developed by agricultural user associations in France," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 239(C).

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