Freshwater accounts for 3% of all Earth’s reserves. As the population, industry, and agriculture grow, so does water consumption. Industrial giants draw water from illegal wells, including strawberry plantations in Spain. The World Wide Fund for Nature is in opposition to farmers who fights for their livelihood.

Industrial production is growing with population, as is the need to grow more crops and raise more livestock. Irrigation means, on average, twice as productive a unit of land than rainfall alone. However, watering requires a huge volume of freshwater.

Illegal Water Drilling

According to new research published in the journal Nature Sustainability, 30-50% of the water is being stolen on the Planet. According to the Spanish Water Agency, up to half of the strawberry farms pump it from deep underground through a thousand illegal wells.

Illegal wells. Source: YT/DWTV

The sector earns 400 million euros a year and provides about 50,000 jobs. Thanks to intensive irrigation, farmers can grow strawberries all year round.

The Wetland Is Getting Risk

The local water also supplies one of the most important European wetlands in the Doñana National Park, which has become home to rare species. The swamps are fed by groundwater but one of the mainstream’s volumes has halved in the last thirty years.

An illegal water pump in the Doñana National Park. Source: YT/DWTV

In addition, Spain has been facing waves of severe drought and forest fires for some time. Illegal use of water has long been ignored, mainly to preserve jobs in a country that has a long-term unemployment rate of 15%. However, the World Wide Fund for Nature is pushing the state and Spain is slowly closing illegal wells.

Farms in Danger

Illegal wells are being filled in other areas of southern Spain. About a hundred wells have been blocked in the town of Lucena del Puerto, which is considered an epicenter of groundwater theft.

A Greenpeace study found that water stolen a year would be enough to satisfy the needs of 118 million people, equivalent to 2.5 times the Spanish population.

Strawberry plantations in Spain. Source: YT/DWTV

At the same time, two-thirds of the country is arid and is slowly turning into a desert. Authorities are therefore trying to intervene before resources are empty or contaminated. Many farms thus face the threat of half the harvest and associated earnings.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, the population on Earth has grown 4.5 times, which naturally leads to increasing demand for water resources. It is estimated that half of the people on Earth will lack water in 2025, and illegal pumping of water by industrial giants is exacerbating the situation.

Source and credit:,, featured photo: