Characterization and monitoring of the flora, vegetation and soils of the Agua Amarga salt marsh (Alicante, Spain)


Mancomunidad de Canales del Taibilla-Ministerio de Medio Ambiente of Spain


Yearly, in progress from 2010 to 2020.

Project Manager
Partnership Entities


General Objectives

To asses the effect of an irrigation program with sea-water on the vegetation and the soils of Agua Amarga salt marsh, and to establish recommendations on the irrigation regime to be applied in order to improve and preserve the ecosystem.


Groundwater withdrawal by desalination plants might lead to a drop of the piezometric levels of aquifers,causing negative impacts, especially in water-dependent ecosystems. Management strategies are necessary to overcome these potential problems, particularly in abandoned solar saltworks, wetlands which are particularly prone to degradation by desiccation. This proyect aims to asses a pioneer programme of irrigation with seawater to correct the environmental impacts of two desalination plants in Agua Amarga salt marsh, SE Spain. Depth of water level and soil Eh, bulk density, moisture and salinity and other properties are regularly measured in plots from 12 different environments/types of vegetation.

Our results indicate that the amount of seawater pumped is a critical issue and must be planned taking into account not only the vegetation but also the soil properties such as bulk density (that influences water infiltration and retention) and salinity (mainly determined by the salts that remain in the soils due to the former use of the ponds as solar saltworks).

Project Results

Internal reports.


* González-Alcaraz, M.N., Aránega, B., Conesa, H.M., Delgado, M.J., Álvarez-Rogel, J. 2015. Contribution of soil properties to the assessment of a seawater irrigation programme as a management strategy for abandoned solar saltworks. Catena, 126, 189-200.

* González-Alcaraz, M.N., Aránega, B., Tercero, M.C., Conesa, H.M., Álvarez-Rogel, J. 2014. Irrigation with seawater as a strategy for the environmental management of abandoned solar saltworks: a case-study in SE Spain based on soil-vegetation relationships. Ecological Engineering 71: 677- 689


Invited talk. J. Álvarez-Rogel, M.N. González-Alcaraz. Soils and vegetation as indicators of ecosystemtem recovery in a former saline exploitation following its irrigation with seawater. International meeting COST Action FA0901 Workshop and IUSS Conference “Utilization and Protection of halophytes and Salt-affected landscapes”. Kecskemét (Hungría). Septiembre 2013.