Luisfer Aguado, representative of the association ZAIN (Zaraitzu Ibaia Naturala) in NAIZ
(See also “Zaraitzuko urak Esara eramateko proiektua bertan behera utzi dute” in the Argia magazine)
On 10 August 2019, the waters of the river Zaraitzu (Salazar) witnessed and enjoyed what was surely the largest environmental auzolan (*) ever held in Navarre, promoted by the association ZAIN (Zaraitzu Ibaia Naturala – Salazar Río Natural), an association for the knowledge, conservation and defence of the river Salazar. On that day, more than 400 residents of the villages along the banks of the Salazar (Valle de Salazar, Almiradio, Romanzado and Lumbier) got involved in cleaning and removing rubbish and debris from the riverbanks and the riverbed itself from Izalzu to Lumbier. The success of that day’s work clearly demonstrated the commitment of the people of this part of the Navarrese Pyrenees to the river that is the backbone of their territory.
Since that unforgettable day, Zain’s work in defence of the Salazar, although limited by the pandemic, has continued and that is why today, two years after that day, we want to communicate great news for the Salazar: the great threat that has hung over our river since 1987, the possible transfer of its waters to the new Yesa reservoir, disappears from the new Hydrological Plan for the Ebro basin 2022/2027, which is in the process of development before its definitive publication. As requested by ZAIN, the possibility of a water transfer and its mere mention disappear from the new plan for the 2022/2027 period.
On 9 July, at the presentation of the Third Phase of development of the next Hydrological Plan for the Ebro basin organised by the CHE, and in response to a direct question from a representative of ZAIN, the CHE acknowledged through its Head of Planning, Miguel Ángel García Bera, the disappearance of the project consisting of a dam at Aspurz and a 9 km tunnel under the Sierra de Leyre, including its withdrawal from the CHE’s feasibility studies. What is more, the CHE representative acknowledged that if this idea were to be taken up again in the future, it would require an environmental impact analysis that he predicted he would not be able to pass, as we at ZAIN have always defended.
It is difficult to establish to what extent the work of ZAIN and the people of the river Salazar has influenced this decision by the CHE, but from this association, as well as from all the towns along the banks of the Salazar and the whole of Navarre society, we can only congratulate ourselves on this achievement, which brings us a little closer to a new Water Culture and a more natural and sensible relationship with our rivers. The waters of the Salazar now flow downstream in a safer, freer and more natural way, seeing the threat that weighed on them recede. But in our joy we cannot lower our guard and we will continue to work in defence of the Salazar.
ZAIN was born with the very clear idea of opposing this possible transfer of water from the Salazar to the Yesa reservoir, but not only. Other lines of action were to work on the general state of conservation of the river, a river that we want to remain natural and free, and we have to recognise that with climate change there are difficult times ahead for our rivers, with less expected flow (less water flow due to less rainfall, snowfall and runoff) and greater hydrographic pressure on the use of its waters.
The other line of work and proposal to the people of the Navarrese Pyrenees was the promotion of a new water culture and solidarity with other struggles in defence of our rivers. The other line of work and proposal to the people of the Navarrese Pyrenees was to promote a new water culture and solidarity with other struggles in defence of our rivers. And today, the work to increase the height of Yesa (from which the project that threatened the waters of the Salazar was born) continues, despite the fact that it is clearly a pharaonic project, wasteful of economic resources, archaic in its hydrological management model and unsafe for the nearby population.
But the commitment and dedication required for the conservation, development and work in favour of the Salazar River is unacceptable if it is not done from the perspective of a collective work to which we invite the entire population of the banks of the Salazar, it is the common work of all of us that must continue, but today we are celebrating, WE MEET AT THE RIVER!
(*) communal work in Basque: “auzo” or community and “lan” or work