Lack of rain makes water situation of reservoirs across Spain ‘worrying’

by Lorraine Williamson
no water in pool
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The water shortage affects sectors such as agriculture, livestock and tourism in different parts of Spain. The water reserves of reservoirs used for human consumption and agriculture are only 43.4% of their total capacity.  

The inhabitants of Bélmez  village, Cordoba keep one eye on the sky and the other on the Sierra Boyera reservoir. Due to the lack of rainfall, reserves there are minimal and currently capacity is only 16%. Residents fear restrictions and hope that a transfer from another nearby reservoir, La Colada, will ease the situation.  

Crops and livestock

It is worryingly dry in the area and cutting off the water would be a disaster. The low water level in the reservoir could also affect crops and livestock in the region. Furthermore, it supplies 28 other municipalities in the north of the province with a total population of 80,000.

The town of Ribera del Fresno in the province of Badajoz has also been badly hit by the drought. There is only a little brown water. And, in nearby Calera de León the decision has been made not to fill the pools. The reservoir still has 18%. However, if reserves do not increase, there could be restrictions on consumption in the coming weeks.  

The drought is not a problem that only occurs in the southwest of Spain. Across the peninsula, water reserves used for human consumption and agriculture have fallen again to 43.4% of their total capacity. That is 1.1% less than in the past seven days, and 15% less than in the same week last year. Furthermore, it is 30% less water than the average for the past ten years. This is according to data from the Ministry of Ecological Transition.  

Even Galicia faces water problems 

The water problems are also reaching Galicia, one of the areas that traditionally had more reserves but now has 20% less water than the average over the last decade. Reservoirs in the coastal area are at 70%, eight points below the average of the last 10 years, and those in the east are even 20 points below the average. A warning has been in place since February about continued drought, as rainfall in these months has been 64% less than normal and rivers are 40% lower. In other words, the levels that were characteristic of the months of August have been brought forward.  

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The lack of water has, in turn, endangered navigation in the Congosto de Montrebei, one of the major tourist attractions of the natural border between the Aragonese and Catalan Pyrenees. The almost paradisiacal images of the gorge, once used by canoes and catamarans, have given way to mud and rocks, due to the low level of the nearby Canelles reservoir. The tourism companies, threatened with closure, have asked the Hydrographic Confederation of the Ebro (CHE) and the other competent organisations for solutions.  

Drought alert in Castilla y León  

In Castilla y León, the drought has put the Támega-Mazanas, Tera, Carrión and Pisuerga systems in Valladolid on alert. The President of the Confederación Hidrográfica del Duero (CHD), Cristina Danés, has stated that there is an exceptional situation caused by the exceptional drought in these areas, where the weather conditions during the months of April, May and the first half of June have not helped to improve the hydrological situation of the catchment area.  

The CHD recognises the need to adopt a series of measures to regulate the irrigation campaign, a situation that is also worrying farmers, who fear that they will not be able to complete the irrigation campaign successfully, especially for crops such as maize and sugar beet.  

Castilla-La Mancha 

The Entrepeñas reservoir is an example of the drought in Castilla-La Mancha, with the cracked earth at the foot of the famous viaduct. According to data from the Confederación Hidrográfica del Tajo, the reservoir’s reserves have fallen by 8.83 hectometres in the last seven days and the reservoir is storing 292.71 of the 813 hectometres it can hold. In the Buendía reservoir, capacity has fallen by 7.68 hectometres and it now only contains 432.71 of the 1,705 cubic hectometres it can hold. 

Also read: Summer drought in Spain

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