Drought in winter. Will Barcelona deliver water by ship by ship?

Susza zimą

Many regions of Spain have been hit by drought this year. Spain’s water reservoirs are 43 percent full. Catalonia, including Barcelona, Spain’s second-largest city, is suffering the most. Here, reservoirs supplying water for some 6 million people are only 18 percent full. This is the region’s most severe winter drought on record. There is a threat that Barcelona will need to supply water by sea.

Current water situation in Catalonia

Authorities in northeastern areas of Spain are warning that the area could face a critical shortage of drinking water within a month. Winter drought affects, among others. Barcelona – the city has a population of more than 1.6 million, while the entire province has a population of 5.5 million. As of November 29, even stricter restrictions on water consumption went into effect. This is related to the pre-crisis state of the region. The limit has been reduced from 230 to 210 liters of daily consumption. It affects residents as well as public buildings and industry. In addition, a ban has been imposed on the use of potable water for cleaning streets and watering urban green spaces. According to the Catalan Water Agency, the current per capita intake is 116 liters, so the restrictions should not significantly affect the population’s daily life.

Winter drought – what can await Barcelona?

If water supplies fall below 16 percent, a state of emergency will be declared, and per capita daily consumption limits may be further reduced. Authorities are preparing for a variety of scenarios, but it is predicted that if there is no sudden rainfall – the winter drought will cause a critical shortage of drinking water within weeks. Catalonia’s president, Pere Aragonès, is working with Spain’s Ministry of Ecological Transformation to plan for arranging potential water supplies by sea. The most convenient method of delivering water would be by ship to southern Catalonia, where the Ebro River flows into the Mediterranean. However, such a solution is a last resort, as it would require a large financial outlay. The solution of delivering water by ship was already used in the spring of 2008. – This year’s winter drought may necessitate using this method again.

Drought in winter
Drought in winter. Will Barcelona deliver water by ship by ship? 1

Water price increase in Spain

More expensive desalination plants will be needed to replenish drinking water supplies, even though Barcelona already uses the largest desalination plant in Europe. Worse water quality in rivers requires greater treatment efficiency. On the other hand, the increased cost of water treatment brings with it an increase in water prices for consumers. Bill increases have already affected residents of Sevilla and Málaga, while price increases of 11-16 percent are now planned. in Barcelona and 23 other municipalities. In addition to difficulties with water treatment, there are also problems associated with the operation of hydropower plants. The fifth largest, Mequinenza in Aragon, is threatened with closure due to low water levels in the reservoirs. Production at hydroelectric plants in Spain fell 53 percent during the year.

Fighting drought in Spain

Spain has been hit by more than just winter drought in recent years – the problem is year-round, especially in areas of Catalonia and Andalusia. Spring 2023 was the warmest spring since 1961, and May’s rainfall total was 28 percent less than expected. As of September 2022, rainfall was about 17 percent lower than the 30-year average. This is causing a host of problems, not only related to dwindling reserves and declining water quality, but also to a huge loss of biodiversity. According to experts and Spanish authorities, progressive climate change is responsible for the increasingly hot and dry weather. In 2022, the International Alliance for Drought Resilience was created (International Drought Resilience Alliance – IDRA), in which Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, is active.

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