Measure extends water rationing, after three years without significant rainfall in the region. Catalonia is facing its worst drought since rainfall records began. The Catalonia region declared a state of emergency from this Friday (02/02) due to the severe drought in Barcelona and much of the surrounding area of Spain’s second largest city .
The decision allows the adoption of strict water rationing measures, after three years without significant rainfall in the region, where around six million people live.
The water level in the reservoirs is below 16% of capacity – a level determined by the authorities to impose rationing measures. The head of government of Catalonia, Peres Aragonès, said that the region is experiencing the worst drought in the last century. “We have never faced such a long and intense drought since rainfall records began,” he said.
The measures imposed by the state of emergency reduce the limit on daily water consumption per household, from 210 to 200 liters per person. If conditions worsen, this limit will be reduced to 180 or 160 liters.
From now on, public cleaning with fresh water is prohibited. Swimming pools cannot be refilled, including in hotels and campsites, with some exceptions for sporting uses. Cars can only be washed in establishments that use recycled water and public gardens must be irrigated with groundwater.
Irrigation of private or public gardens and green areas is also prohibited, except in cases of risk to the survival of trees or in public botanical gardens, but always with recycled or phreatic water.
Public showers on beaches will remain closed, and the recreational use of water in ice skating rinks, in games or for bubble baths is prohibited.
Restrictions can be expanded
Stricter restrictions, such as a complete ban on irrigation in public parks and the use of showers in gyms, could be imposed if current conditions persist. In this case, farms and factories will also have significantly reduced supplies.
The measures adopted from this Friday impose an 80% reduction in the use of water for irrigation of plantations, that is, double the 40% cut introduced in November last year. In industry, the reduction should be increased from 15% to 25%.
The state of emergency includes 202 municipalities in the regions and Barcelona and Girona.
Catalonia and the region of Andalusia, which is also suffering from the effects of the drought, are already preparing measures to import fresh water using ships, although authorities admit that it would be a costly measure that would not compensate for the lack of rain.
“We need 30 days of rain,” explained the head of the regional government of Andalusia, Juan Manuel Moreno, recently. “But, real rain, not drizzle, for at least 30 days in a row.”
Last summer in the Northern Hemisphere, in the middle of last year, strong heat waves hit Spain and Europe, breaking temperature records in several parts of the continent. The heat worsened the lack of water, with an increase in evaporation in reservoirs and consumption by the population.
Influence of climate change
Even after the arrival of winter on the continent, the temperature remained above average in Spain, reaching 30ºC in some regions in the middle of January – which normally only occurs in June.
Experts say climate change amplifies the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events such as heat waves, droughts and wildfires.
Catalonia has invested in desalination plants and other measures to mitigate the water crisis, but environmental entities highlight the importance of improving the use of wastewater and groundwater. “The drought is not only the result of a lack of rain, but also of poor management,” said the environmental NGO Greenpeace in a statement.
rc/bl (AFP, EFE)
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