Benidorm, located in the Marina Baja county (Alicante province, eastern Spain) has been considered a costal mass-tourism resort since the 1960s. Benidorm is currently the fourth most visited tourist destination in Spain after Barcelona, Madrid and the Canary Islands, attracting 11 million visitors in 2016. Local population has increased in the past 20 years, to 70,000 inhabitants as of 2014 census. One of the main issues regarding water supply and demand is that in the high season the tourist population may double or even triple this figure, reaching a total population of 200.000 inhabitants.

Benidorm has already experienced sever water crises in the second half of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st. One of the worst crises happened in March 1978, when the water supply  was interrupted for 17 continuous hours. In September of the same year, the system collapsed and the whole year’s water utility’s budget was spent on water imports. This event caused the loss of much of the German market until the present day.

In order to avoid facing the same situation again, an agreement was made between agricultural water demand (Canal Bajo del Algar irrigator’s community) and urban/tourism water demand (Marina Baja Water Consortium), with the aim of addressing water planning and developing an integrated water resources management.

Linear infrastructures used by the Canal Bajo del Algal irrigators’ community and the Marina Baja Water Consortium

One of the most distinctive features of the urban water cycle in Benidorm is the use of non-conventional flows (such as reclaimed wastewater and desalination water) based on the agreements between several agricultural communities and the water authorities of the region in order to ensure water availability for residential and tourism activities. Given their importance in economic, social, and environmental terms, an accurate assessment of water-tourism interrelationships has been conducted by HIDRAQUA and the Marina Baja Water Consortium, the main retail water company and water manager in the Benidorm area.

Some Benidorm facts:

  • 145 pubs
  • 576 bars
  • 25 night clubs
  • 2 aquatic parks
  • 1 amusement park
  • 2 animal parks
  • 6,000 tourist apartments (20,482 beds)
  • 128 hotels (40,000 beds)
  • 110,000 beds in secondary households
  • 10 campsides (11,533 beds)
  • 4,800 jobs in the hotel sector
  • 89% of employment is in the tourist sector
  • Accounts for 43% of tourism GDP at regional level (Valencia)
  • The water consumption of hotels vary between 147 and 361 liters per bed, depending on the type of hotel
  • 64% of water supply in Benidorm is for tourism