This pair of satellite images (Figures 1 and 2) shows the impact of massive and rapid agricultural development in Almeria Province along Spain's southern coast. In the earlier image (Figure 1), the landscape reflects rather typical rural agricultural land use. In the 2000 image (Figure 2), much of the same region—an area covering roughly 20,000 hectares (49,421 acres)—has been converted to intensive greenhouse agriculture for the mass production of market produce. (Greenhouse-dominated land appears as whitish gray patches.)
In order to address increasingly complex water needs throughout Spain, the government adopted the Spanish National Hydrological Plan (SNHP) in 2001. Initially, this water redistribution plan involved the construction of 118 dams and 22 water transfer projects that would move water from parts of the country where it was relatively abundant to more arid regions. In 2004, the Spanish government announced it would begin exploring more environmentally friendly water-saving technologies, such as wastewater recycling and seawater desalinization.
The hot dry climate of the Almeria area has discouraged urbanization, however, it has rapidly developed a booming, mostly family-owned, greenhouse agriculture (Figure 3, left). Tomatoes are grown hydroponically in glass or plastic "Dutch" style greenhouses (Figure 3, right).