Challenges and Solutions for Urban-Tourist Water Supply on Mediterranean Tourist Islands: The Case of Majorca, Spain

  • Angela Hof
  • Macià Blázquez-Salom
  • Margalida Comas Colom
  • Alfredo Barón Périz
Part of the Springer Water book series (SPWA)


Water supply on Mediterranean tourist islands becomes a major challenge due to anthropogenic pressure on water resources and global climate change. Asymmetries of water availability and demand are shown for the case of Majorca, focusing on the urban-tourist sector. Quality tourism development is increasing water demand, its unequal access and unsustainable use. Supply solutions rely on water supply enhancement through technological fixes, such as shipping freshwater from the mainland, or the desalination of brackish groundwater and seawater. Supply enhancement is entrenched in urban-tourist and demographic growth as major drivers and results of the Spanish economic development from 1995 to 2007, with urban-tourist growth being supported by technical water supply solutions. Instead of redirecting the discourse to water demand management, supply enhancement and technological, market-oriented solutions for accommodating rising water demand are favored. These supply solutions retard innovative and proactive water policies. On the other hand, successful public policies have constrained urban sprawl and golf courses development in order to enhance natural resources management; particularly in the Balearic Islands in comparison with the Spanish coastal areas in general (Rullan 2011). Palma and Calvià are studied in detail as two mature and representative island tourist destinations in the Mediterranean: Their urban-tourist water supplies increasingly rely on desalinated water, provided through expensive infrastructure. Notwithstanding, the production of desalinated water dropped by 20 % since the beginning of the current financial and economic crisis. Reasons for this are the costs for fueling the desalination plants, and the opportunity to extend the overexploitation of the underground water tables that recovered to a better shape thanks to supplementation by desalination and thanks to a long wet period since 2008. The current institutional framework and the detailed characteristics of the regional regulatory framework of water supply is analyzed, showing that meanwhile the regional government should implement the European Union Water Framework Directive, current policies demonstrate a strong normative recoil. Water demand, supply and the reliance on non-conventional sources are spatially uneven, embodied in uneven sociospatial water supply and consumption. However, the current discourse reduces the associated environmental and societal problems to questions of supply enhancement and may retard innovative and proactive water policies dealing with global change pressures such as climate change.


Water Demand Water Price Balearic Island Tourist Sector Desalination Plant 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Angela Hof
    • 1
  • Macià Blázquez-Salom
    • 2
  • Margalida Comas Colom
    • 3
  • Alfredo Barón Périz
    • 3
  1. 1.Landscape Ecology/Biogeography, Geography DepartmentRuhr University BochumBochumGermany
  2. 2.Research Group on Sustainability and Territory (GIST), Earth Sciences DepartmentUniversity of the Balearic IslandsPalma (Majorca)Spain
  3. 3.Govern de Les Illes Balears, Conselleria D’Agricultura, Medi Ambient I Territori, Servei D’Estudis I PlanificacióDirecció General de Recursos Hídrics, C/Gremi de CorredorsPalma (Majorca)Spain

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