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Areas Urbanism & territory, Tourism and Economic activities Environment

'Portugese man o' war' turns up on Formentera seaboard

Foto caravella 1Formentera's Office of Environment reports that in recent days roughly one hundred jellyfish-like organisms, dubbed the Portugese man o' war, have turned up at local beaches and swimming spots.

Cleaning crews, which picked up 89 of the marine hydrozoans from Migjorn beach, removed another nine from the area of coast between cala Embaster and es Caló de Sant Agustí and several more from Illetes.

What to do if you find a Portugese man o' war
Beachgoers who come across a man o' war on the beach should telephone 112. The emergency service has been directed to document information on sightings and pass it along to the Council so the organisms can be removed.

Under no circumstances should one attempt to touch a man o' war. Likewise, pet owners are advised to keep their animals from sniffing or stepping on any that wash up on the shore.

The CiF environment office reminds islanders that surges in cases of Portugese man o' war or other organisms on the local seaboard are linked to marine and wind currents. As with similar species, anyone comes across a Portugese man o' war should remain calm and proceed with caution.

Formentera renews pact with Aliança Mar Blava

foto alianca mar blava3Two Formentera Council officials —President Jaume Ferrer and environment secretary Daisee Aguilera— met in the administration's hall of ceremonies today with a pair of Aliança Mar Blava representatives —Chairwoman Sandra Benbeniste and Secretary Flor dell'Agnolo— to extend the two entities' partnership another year.

Ferrer highlighted the importance of Aliança Mar Blava's efforts to stop petroleum prospections —“a fight that continues today”, he said, “particularly with projects still ahead on the horizon”. Speaking on behalf of the administration, he also voiced his hope any future projects would meet a prompt end. Ferrer described the Council's long-standing relationship with Aliança Mar Blava as “key to winning a strong consensus” when the Formentera Council presents comments on the Govern balear's newest climate-change legislation—a law Formentera officials believe is crucial to promoting renewable energy.

Sandra Benbeniste thanked the Formentera Council for its support mobilising an effort that blocked five potentially destructive projects in the Mediterranean and the Balearics. “Administrations, civil society, political parties and businesses, everyone contributed”she said, adding that, “it's a satisfying moment. When we're united, we get where we need to go”. Benbeniste pointed to a bid currently afoot for legislation to keep the Mediterranean prospection-free and block new projects, “like in France and other places in the world”.

Circling back to Ferrer's remarks earlier, Benbeniste spoke about a second goal—renewable energies—and “drawing on our strength to create consensus and get a deal on renewables”. “Our job here”, said the chairwoman, “is to make sure people are informed about the new climate-change law, give our review of it, and —especially— support it, because we think it's important this gets broad acceptance”.

Under today's deal, the first in 2018 between Aliança Mar Blava and the Council, the Council pledges €6,000—one thousand more than Formentera's commitment in 2017.

New municipal water setup makes 'smart island' out of Formentera

Foto presentacio AqualiaAfter a successful pilot run in Sant Ferran, the Formentera Council plans to invest €302,765 for an expanded installation of smart water metres. The new system enables real-time readings and improved client updates and network efficiency.

In early 2017 the Formentera Council launched a pilot programme to allow for remote readings of water metres across Sant Ferran. The effort involved installing 236 “smart” metres which made it possible to track individual water use as well as the water added to the Sant Ferran grid from outside sources.

Reviews of the pilot programme were overwhelmingly positive. Thirty-one incidents were caught in 2017 alone, with an average loss of water per hour of 17 litres. That's the equivalent of 379,400 litres of water —or 38 water trucks— per month. Most of the incidents corresponded to malfunctioning equipment in customers' home setup.

Pioneer system in the Balearics
The Council has decided to partner with Aquàlia to gradually expand the system across the entire island, ultimately foreseeing installation of 2,394 metres. The first of its kind in the Balearics, the new system comes without rate increases of any kind. Plus, it means customers get monthly bills, instead of every four months, as before.

Rollout of the programme will occur in three phases. The first, already nearing completion, involves installing the new devices in Sant Francesc and la Savina. The second —installation of the smart metres in es Pujols— has already started. The final phase will begin in July and concerns ses Bardetes, es Ca Marí, la Mola, es Caló, sa Roqueta and Can Bonet industrial park. Officials expect rollout to be completed by year end 2018.

Advantages of new metres
The system, whose use of telelecturas (lectura means “reading”) means that real-time checks of water metres can be done daily without operators travelling to the site in question, makes possible remote, automatic readings which are forwarded directly to the Aqualia office. The water metres emit a signal every eight seconds. The information on water use travels to a computer at command central, where another programme automatically calculates billing information.

Visits to residential areas or individual homes become unnecessary under the new system. So do estimated readings.  Using the “Smart Aqua” app, consumers can now get up-to-the-hour summaries of their water use, even away from home. By pinpointing leaks within homes, the system makes it possible to catch equipment failures and avoid the astronomical bills that water leaks can cause.

When equipment logs unusual behaviour, or stops, hourly updates are forwarded to the local command central, giving a clear picture of leaks in the grid due to technical failures, fraud or outsize use.

Upgrades that benefit consumers
Environment secretary Daisee Aguilera says the system will give officials “a clear picture about water use by neighbourhood”, plus “detailed and objective information to better define future investment into the grid”. As well, noted the secretary, “users are informed of any unusual activity, like spikes in consumption or buggy equipment, reducing the likelihood of outsized bills”.

The changes mean improvements both in tracking and performance. The latter was 89.57% in 2017. Taken together, they promise more sustainable consumption and a closer control of water distribution, which is so necessary on the island.

Formentera joins Earth Hour planetary pact

foto Hora del planetaThis year, as in years past, the Formentera Council has signed on to Earth Hour, a worldwide movement to turn off the electricity this Saturday, March 24. Between 8.30pm and 9.30pm, the lights in Sant Francesc's central plaza and church will be shut off in observance of the event.

Environment secretary Daisee Aguilera encouraged islanders to join in on the planetary lights-off event, calling the action “symbolic but a needed boost to visibility for the movement to combat climate change”.

Earth Hour got its start 11 years ago in Sydney as a symbolic action to draw attention to climate change. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) proposed switching off lights across households, buildings and emblematic landmarks for one hour as a simple effort to make a change. The Council decided to take part by cutting the lights at some of the primary roads in Sant Francesc.

Last year, in 2017, thousands of cities joined in from 187 countries. Upwards of 12,000 iconic monuments and buildings went dark for an hour, uniting people, businesses, municipalities and government agencies in the effort to squash climate change. With a diverse blend of activities—from promoting sustainable modes of living and pushing renewable development, to protecting our forests, seas and natural resources and fighting to preserve biodiversity—the day has turned into a wonderful opportunity to engage in care for the planet.

Boats left on Estany des Peix waterline get heave-ho

Retirada embarcacio estany des peix redux2The Formentera Council's Office of Environment reports that thirteen ships—auxiliary vessels, mostly, as well as two trailers, five windsurf boards and one kayak—have been hauled away from the lake known as Estany des Peix since last September.

The operation was carried out only after checks of the area confirmed the boats were, if not abandoned, at least likely polluters in the event adverse weather were to cause a vessel to run aground or sink, provoking, in consequence, fuel spills.

The Council may contact the appropriate authorities, whether Demarcació de Costes or the regional environment department-controlled Ses Salines reserve, to order the immediate removal of boats or other floating craft which could contain hazardous-waste pollutants or pose a threat to other navigators. If the time since a ship's most recent activity exceeds one month, and it occupies a public shore, the vessel may be considered waste, in which case the Formentera Council can order its removal and levy a corresponding fine.

Trumpeting the Estany des Peix's distinction as a protected public space, environment councillor Daisee Aguilera advocated a return to traditional uses of the lake as well as a dial-down of the commercial pressure it endures today.

Currently in the works is a proposal by the Formentera Council to regulate moorage of watercraft in the prized natural space.

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