! Murcia Today – New green filters will remove 60% of Mar Menor nitrates

Publication date: 07/22/2022

8 wetlands will clean contaminated water from the aquifer and remove almost a thousand tons of nitrates every year

A network of semi-natural wetlands being regenerated around the Campo de Cartagena aims to block the entry of polluted water into the Mar Menor from the underground aquifer.

The Spanish Ministry for Ecological Transition intends to transform 300 hectares around the Mar Menor lagoon to clean up 5.3 cubic hectometres of water that will be pumped from underground per year. This would make it possible to eliminate 968 tonnes of nitrates discharged into the lagoon every year, eliminating 60% of these toxic compounds which, combined with other elements such as phosphates, cause the proliferation of macroalgae dangerous for the ecosystem.

This natural solution promoted by the Spanish central government to lower the water table of the Quaternary aquifer under the Mar Menor basin deviates from the approach of the regional government of Murcia. Instead, local authorities chose to redirect groundwater to a plant to remove nitrates and reuse the water for irrigating farmland.

New green filters will remove 60% of Mar Menor nitratesInstead, the eight new wetlands, five with associated green filters, will form part of a planned green belt around the Mar Menor to reduce the influx of pollutants. This was highlighted on Thursday afternoon July 21, when the Minister of Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, visited the mouth of the bed of the Rambla del Albujón, where a widening of the last stretch of the river bed is planned in order to filter the flow of the aquifer and to retain runoff during heavy rains.

The ministry is investing more than 450 million euros in the plan, part of which will be used to buy back private farmland or pay “rent” to landlords to plant suitable plants that will trap and lock in nitrates.

New green filters will remove 60% of Mar Menor nitratesThese actions would start with the land surrounding the Las Salinas de San Pedro park and the desalination plant, and then continue with a 44-hectare plot in the La Calavera de San Javier area. The Ministry also plans other actions in Rambla de Miranda, Playa la Hita in Los Narejos, near the Los Alcázares wastewater treatment plant, Torre del Negro, Rambla de Ponce south of the lagoon and others filters at the mouth of the Albujón.

Image 1: Ministerio para la Transición Ecológica

Images 2 & 3: Zoe Cooper

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