June 15th, 2009
Environmental groups are planning a large demonstration in Talavera de la Reina on 20th June to campaign for the recovery of the longest river in Iberia, the Tajo (Tagus).
Thanks to Damien Martin of the excellent Wild Spain for bringing this to my attention. He notes here:
The rally…seeks to bring attention to the fact that 80% of the Tagus is siphoned off to fuel industrial agriculture and urban development in the Spanish Mediterranean regions of Murcia, Alicante and Almería (fruit and veg for export, golf courses for ex-pats and tourists) and that the small portion which finally flows into Portugal is heavily polluted with effluent from Madrid.
The Tagus Network (Red del Tajo) have produced this PDF in English:
All Spanish and Portuguese children are taught that the Tagus, the longest river in the Iberian Peninsula, has its source in the Albarracín Mountains of Spain and runs westwards for over 1000 km, before flowing into the Atlantic next to the Portuguese capital, Lisbon. Sadly this schoolbook statement is currently fiction or, to be exact, only 20% true. The fact is 80% of the Tagus is siphoned off to fuel industrial agriculture and urban development in the Spanish Mediterranean. What remains of the natural mid and lower reaches of the Tagus are a shadow of their former selves, heavily polluted, and, in places, little more than open sewers. Read full text in English: Battle of the Tagus: Citizens of Spain and Portugal unite to save their greatest river
November 7th, 2008
The Spanish government is planning to give protection to some 2,900km of 357 still-unspoilt stretches of rivers, involving initially the creation of a Catálogo Nacional de Reservas Fluviales, which put a stop to any dam construction, waste disposal or extraction in these areas. The idea comes from a proposal by Ecologistas en Acción who note “It would have a huge importance because it would create biological corridors in almost all mountain ranges and would save what is left of rivers, which are probably the most altered ecosystems by humans.”
September 21st, 2007
The River Guadix, a sub-tributary of the Guadiana Menor, which flows through the town of the same name must lay claim to world’s most tautological geographical name.
Wikipedia claims in tautological place names:
Río Guadix, Spain (The River River River – Río is “river” in Spanish, Guad < w?d? is “river” in Arabic and Ix is “river” in Phoenician)
August 30th, 2007
The Ebro’s importance is reflected in the name of the Iberian Peninsula, which almost certainly comes from the river, first known as the Iber and Iberus and Ebro, and not the other way around. It was first used in the 6th century BC by a Greek author in reference to the Iberians, or the people who lived along the Iberus ( Ebro) river. Ultimately the word may well derive from the Basque words ibai (river) and ibar (valley), and these from ur meaning water. Linguists have noted similarities with the names of 200 other European rivers and streams (e.g. Ibar in Serbia, Ebrach and several Eberbach in Germany, Irwell in The UK) giving a tantalising clue as to a form of Basque being once spoken throughout Europe before the arrival of Indo-European tribes and languages. More on the Ebro
July 22nd, 2007
My Tortosí friends have been complaining about these for several years now. The images of the bites I’ve seen on TV are nasty. We’re actually dealing with two species from Africa Simulium intermedium and Simulium ornatum On occasions, farmers with orchards along the River Ebro have had great difficulty harvesting their crops
Black flies in Catalonia
Spain hit by plague of blood-sucking black flies
Dale Fuchs in Madrid Monday June 25, 2007 The Guardian
A plague of black flies has prompted authorities in north-eastern Spain to issue warnings on TV and fliers advising people to cover up and avoid riverside areas in the early morning and dusk.
The insect has been quickly breeding – and sucking blood – along the rivers and reservoirs of Catalonia and Aragon, causing alarm in small towns.
Only two to three millimetres long, the fly is much smaller and harder to spot than most mosquitoes, but its voracious bite sent more than 2,000 people to hospital last year in Catalonia alone. Its vigorous jaw, which releases a cocktail of chemicals, can produce allergic reactions.
“If the mosquito is a neurosurgeon that bites with a probe, the black fly is a butcher that scratches the skin and makes you bleed,” Raul Escosa, member of an Ebro river environmental board, told El Pais.
“We had to take my 18-year-old daughter to the dermatologist and the allergist because she had a dozen swellings of eight to 10 centimetres,” said Jesus Llop, a town council member in the town of Mequinenza.
The black fly, an umbrella term for several Simulium species, was first detected in the region in 1997, and it has been making its annoying presence increasingly felt. Unlike the mosquito, it breeds in clean river water. Regional experts believe the current outbreak stems from improvements in water quality and new irrigation channels, which created a new habitat.
The insect injects an anaesthetic, an anti-clotting agent and a vasodilator into the skin of its host, who belatedly notices the damage after the fly has moved on. In Switzerland an attacking swarm reportedly killed a calf.