The Segarra-Garrigues Irrigation System project is an important project in the development of the Lleida province of Catalonia, Spain. The aim of the project is to transform 70,000 hectares of non-irrigated land into irrigated land, benefiting an area with a population of over 350,000 people. However, the Global Financial Crisis’ effect on the Procuring Authority’s financial standing created significant challenges, with lenders terminating their financing arrangements with the Project Company.
Requirements to comply with European Union (EU) environmental requirements also caused delays and limited the scope of the project. As a result of these challenges, the construction phase has been extended and is not expected to finish until 2029.
SUMMARY LESSONS LEARNED
• Good engagement with end users at an early stage during project inception and throughout the project delivery is essential to ensure project viability.
• The Procuring Authority must carry out sufficient due diligence, to ensure that the scope of the project and any contractually prescribed reference design is compliant with all relevant legislation.
• Continuation of staff from construction through to operations improves the efficiency of managing the transition between the phases.
• Over-specification in the PPP contract, and development of input rather than output specifications, can have an adverse impact on the final design and whole-life costing.
• Government backing becomes very important in critical situations, such as lack of financing, and can mitigate the risk of project postponement or termination
This case study provides good practical insights regarding a number of important PPP procurement principles. The fact that the communication was not always as good as it could have been or the issues the procuring authority had to overcome does not make it a failed project. What is important is the additional services that were delivered to the farmers.
Is it conceivable that such an Irrigation PPP project can be conceptualised and developed within the African context?