MADRID – Spain’s water reservoirs are at alarmingly low levels. According to the latest official data from October 10, reservoirs for human consumption are at 27.3% of their capacity.
Geographically, the situation looks bleakest in the south of Spain. The Guadalete-Barbate and Guadalquivir basins in Andalucia are the hardest hit at 15.5% and 18% respectively. In Catalonia the situation is not much better, with a discouraging level of 21.3%.
Despite these gloomy figures, the north of Spain, with Cantabria as an exception, is keeping its head above water. However, the total capacity of the reservoirs there is smaller.
Due to the ongoing drought, 26% of mainland Spain is in a state of drought. Furthermore, 42% is in a situation of emergency or exceptional scarcity.
Very welcome rain showers
After the intense and unusual heat that has hit Spain recently, weather forecasts have been offering some hope for days. It has been raining in Galicia since Friday and since Sunday an Atlantic depression has reached the western part of the peninsula with heavy rain in the northwest and centre of the country. A lot of rain was already predicted for the dry south on Saturday, but unfortunately, the showers did not fall or were very disappointing in terms of the amount of water. The current forecast is that it will rain from today.
How much rain is needed?
Meteored wonders how much rain is needed to save water reserves in Spain. The weather station also immediately admits that this is a very complex question. The first rain showers may soak the ground, but it is not guaranteed that this water will also reach the reservoirs. The dry, cracked soil and the nature of the rainfall (heavy showers can run off instead of reaching the deeper layers of the ground) play a role in this.
It is also crucial that rain falls in the upper reaches of the rivers to effectively replenish the reservoirs. While the coming rain and temperature drop may bring some relief, it will most likely not be enough to end the current drought where every drop counts. Experts estimate that it will take between one and two months of rainy weather to get water reserves above 50%.
It is therefore hoped that the current weather turn is the start of a changeable season that will bring more episodes of rain to restore the water balance in Spain.