“Iberdrola empties water reservoirs during drought”

by Lorraine Williamson
Iberdrola empties water into Tagus

MADRID – In the first three months of 2023, 600 billion litres of water have been released in the Iberdrola reservoirs in the Tagus basin. MEP Idoia Villanueva of Podemos has asked the European Commission for an explanation. 

She requested the European Commission to decide in writing whether the emptying of reservoirs by Iberdrola is contrary to the Water Framework Directive. According to various media, Iberdrola is said to have emptied up to 600,000 million litres of water from the Extremadura reservoirs in the Tagus basin. This was seemingly done in the first three months of 2023 to generate hydropower and increase its profits. 

Prevent energy companies from exacerbating climate disasters 

Much of Europe, and Spain in particular, is facing a severe drought. Therefore, Villanueva also asked the European Commission how it intends to ensure that energy companies do not exacerbate climate disasters and “how it deals with water speculation fight to ensure good management and fair access to the resource”. 


 “It is not the first time that Iberdrola has drained reservoirs during a drought. But with the succession of high temperatures, the lack of rain and the accentuated dryness of the soil endangering crops and access to water, it is shocking to see that during the first three months of 2023, Iberdrola has maintained its policy of emptying reservoirs, such as those of Alcántara, Gabriel y Galán or Valdecañas,” said Villanueva. “In the past week alone, 46,000 million litres would have been emptied.” 

Iberdrola previously accused 

In 2021, Iberdrola was also accused by various municipalities in Spain of emptying reservoirs for their gain. In Zamora, for example, a reservoir emptied from about 95% capacity to 12%. This was just in around four months following two sharp drops in April and June. 

At the time, 16 mayors of the affected area signed a document addressed to the European Commissioners with responsibilities in the field of Environment and the Green Deal to address “the abusive practices” of the electricity company and its effects on the inhabitants, ecosystems and the economy of this highly vulnerable rural contexts”. 


Environment Minister Ribera called the practice of unauthorised emptying of the reservoirs of Ricobayo and Valdecañas to take advantage of the high electricity price “outrageous”. The company has been investigated for following these practices. In September of that year, Iberdrola, Naturgy and Endesa were fined for emptying four reservoirs. 

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