How to apply for water for a plot of land in Spain?

Rural land for sale in Spain is a very attractive investment that is of interest to more and more people in Spain. Normally, for an economical price, you have a place where you can build an agricultural facility, cultivate crops, raise livestock or even build a property in those places where it is allowed. However, these types of rural estates do not always have basic services. In such cases, it is necessary to apply for the necessary connections in order to have these goods on the property. Requesting water for rural land is generally an easy procedure, but it is advisable to know the details in order to avoid problems.

Getting this supply to the property is vital. Without this service, it will be impossible to have irrigation systems, running water for animals or to supply a possible property. It is therefore essential to find a way to provide this supply, either by connection to a public network or by exploiting the water resources that may be available on the farm itself in the form of springs, wells, streams or rivers that cross the land.


What is rustic land and what can be done on it?

Rural land is land that is outside the limits of what is known as urban land. They are always located in rural areas and, in general, cannot be built on, with some exceptions. For example, it is possible to rehabilitate a ruined or deteriorated building on rural land; it is also possible to build warehouses and livestock or agricultural facilities, as well as certain buildings for rural tourism. Furthermore, in some Autonomous Communities, single-family properties may be built, provided that certain maximum measurements are respected.

In any of these cases, if there is no water supply, it is necessary to request water for the rural land in question. And this request must be made following specific steps to avoid making mistakes.


Requirements and steps to request water on a plot of land

The first thing to know when requesting a connection to a water network from a rural property is that in Spain it is a public property, which means that it cannot be used without administrative authorisation. Furthermore, depending on the type of connection to be made, permission must be requested from the municipality or the hydrographic confederation responsible for the area. If the water is to be used for irrigation purposes, it may be necessary to apply to a local irrigation association.

If there is the possibility of connecting to a public water supply in the vicinity of the rural property, permission must be requested from the local council. It is possible that the municipality in question has a company in charge of distribution: if this is the case, this entity will be in charge of studying the connection and deciding whether to authorise it. Often, these companies make it a requirement that there is an agricultural activity on the farm requesting the service. If this does not exist, it is possible that they will not allow the connection.

It is also necessary to bear in mind that these municipal companies are not obliged to build the connection, as they are when the application is made for a farm on urban land. Therefore, once granted, the interested owner must build the connection. To do so, a construction company must be contracted to do it according to the technical regulations.

Often this work requires crossing public roads and other people's property. Permissions from the traffic authorities and from these other owners will then be required. Finally, if the farm is in a specially protected area, such as a National or Natural Park, permits from the managing bodies of these sites will also be required.

On the other hand, if the aim is to take advantage of surface or underground water from springs, watercourses or aquifers existing on the rural land, the circumstances are different. Even if it is on private land, it is still State property. Therefore, permission must be requested from the hydrographic confederation, which will study the case and decide whether to authorise the use or not. The hydrographic or basin confederations are public entities that administer the water resources of the different areas of the country. In Spain there are several: the Cantabrian, the Ebro, the Duero, the Tagus... These bodies ensure that water resources are conserved and not overexploited. Their approval is essential for water to be available.

Once the authorisation has been granted, a water intake will have to be built. If it is a surface spring, this can be done with a manhole that conducts the liquid through hoses. If it is a well, it will be necessary to install some kind of pumping system to extract it and transport it to where it is to be used. In any case, it is advisable to use companies that specialise in this type of work.


What legislation should be taken into account when requesting water for rural land?

In Spain, a mostly dry country, it is a very valuable resource. This has meant that access to it is highly legislated and regulated. In fact, there are dozens of laws, rules and regulations to be taken into account. There are national ones, such as the Water Law, which regulates the public water domain; also important is the 1986 Regulation of the Public Water Domain, which develops part of this law, as well as decree 125/2007, of 2 February, which establishes the territorial scope of the river basin districts. In addition, there are regional and even municipal regulations. Other regulations, such as those governing National or Natural Parks, may also affect the connection of a network.

As can be seen, access to this supply on rural land can be very simple as long as one is aware of which legislation and which regulations apply in each case. Otherwise, it can become a mess. Still, one way or another, water can be ordered for rural land in almost all circumstances and enjoy this service without any problems.


Types of water applications for rural land

Depending on the needs and usability, there are different types of water applications. The most common are:

  • For agricultural irrigation. This is one of the most frequent on rural land in Spain. Farmers and farm owners can apply for a permit to extract water from nearby sources, such as wells, reservoirs or rivers, in order to irrigate their crops and ensure their growth and development.
  • For livestock use. In case the rural land is used for livestock farming, the owners may require water to supply the animals. This request may include access to water troughs, ponds or any source of water needed to support livestock.
  • For domestic use. If the land has a property or infrastructure intended for residential use, water may be required for domestic use, such as supplying the house with drinking water or for hygiene and drinking purposes.
  • Industrial use. In some cases, water may be requested for industrial uses related to agricultural or livestock activities, such as irrigation of greenhouses or cleaning of equipment and machinery.
  • For recreational activities. On farms used for recreational or tourist activities, such as camping or outdoor activities, water may be requested to supply swimming pools, recreation areas or to provide amenities for visitors.

It is important to note that each type of water application may be subject to specific regulations and standards depending on the location of the land and local and regional laws. In addition, obtaining the necessary permits and licences may vary depending on the type and quantity of water requested, as well as the availability of the water resource in the area.


How to assess the water needs of rural land

It is essential to know the amount of water that the rural land needs on a fixed or temporary basis. This will determine both the type of source needed and its quality or quantity. In order to carry out this assessment, the following must be taken into account:

  • Type of crops or activities. Identifying the type of crops or activities that will be grown on the land is essential, as each may have different water requirements. For example, intensive crops such as orchards or greenhouses will need more water than rainfed crops.
  • Climate and season. This is essential, as water needs can change throughout the year. A rustic plot of land in Galicia is not the same as in Murcia or Alicante, where water needs are totally different.
  • Soil characteristics. Assessing the water retention capacity of the soil is important, as some soil types can retain more water than others. This will influence the frequency and amount of irrigation needed.
  • Water availability. Determining the availability of water in the area is key to knowing whether the water demand of the site can be met. Consider whether there are nearby water sources, such as rivers, wells or reservoirs, and whether they are accessible.
  • Irrigation efficiency. Consider the irrigation system to be used and its efficiency. It is important to opt for systems that minimise water wastage, such as drip irrigation or sprinkler irrigation.


What kind of water sources are available on rural land?

On rural land, the water sources available may vary depending on the geographical location and the specific conditions of the area. The most common are:

  • Surface water. These include rivers, streams, creeks and lakes that are on the surface of the land.
  • Groundwater. Wells can be drilled to extract water from the groundwater aquifer and use it for irrigation or human and animal consumption. It is important to ensure that the aquifer has sufficient capacity to meet the water needs of the land.
  • Rainwater. Rainwater harvesting and storage is a sustainable and efficient option for supplying water to rural land. By installing rainwater harvesting systems, such as gutters and storage tanks, water can be collected and used for irrigation and other uses.
  • Reservoirs and cisterns. On some rural land, it is possible to construct reservoirs or cisterns to store water. These structures allow large quantities of water to be stored and used in times of drought or when other sources of water are not available.
  • Other sources. Depending on the location and characteristics of the terrain, there may also be other sources of water, such as natural springs or meltwater from nearby mountains.


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