Recent rain does not solve Spain’s serious shortage of water reserves

by Lorraine Williamson
water shortage

Spain is suffering one of the worst droughts in living memory. Even recent rainfall is proving far from sufficient to solve this increasingly serious problem. However, a few weeks of continuous rain can partly alleviate the water shortage. 

In addition to the lack of precipitation, temperatures in Spain are also much higher than normal. The rainfall of recent weeks might have given the impression in some places that the drought has been partially resolved. However, that is far from the case according to meteorologists. 

‘A few weeks of continuous rain would partly alleviate water shortage in Spain’ 

According to Julio Barea, a water expert at Greenpeace, Spain would need several months of moderate rainfall to restore the country’s water reserves. In September and October it was even fairly dry in Galicia, where it normally rains regularly. Although the recent rainfall has been able to replenish part of the reserves. Even continuous rain for 10 consecutive days, would only partly alleviate the water shortage in Spain. 

At the moment, the water reserve in Spain is 18% less than in reserve in recent years. Over the past ten years, Spain has averaged 50.64% of water reserves. A significant contrast to the current 32.9%. This means the water reservoirs currently store 18,444 cubic hectometres (hm³) of water. This is lower than last year’s figures, when the total capacity was 39.06% and 21,929 hm³. 

According to figures from the most recent report of the Ministry of Ecological Transition, water reserves have only been replenished by 0.35% compared to a week ago due to recent rainfall. This, therefore shows how long it would have to rain to partially solve the problem. 

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Drought alert in half of Catalonia and Andalucia 

The situation in Catalonia and Andalucia is currently quite dire. The reservoirs of the Guadalquivir currently hold 19% of their usual water capacity. The inland lakes in Catalonia are also in bad shape with only 34% of the usual stock. 

In Barcelona it has already been decided to close off more than 40% of the decorative fountains in the cities. Residents are also asked to no longer wash their cars with a hose, but with a bucket. Despite these small initiatives, organisations such as Greenpeace have focused on one sector in particular; industrial agriculture that consumes more than 80% of water resources. 

Illegal wells are a major problem in Spain 

In addition, Spain is facing another serious problem; 1.5 million illegal wells extract as much water from the reserves as the amount of water consumed on average by 118 million people. Something the WWF already sounded the alarm about when it was concluded that Spain is the country with the largest overexploitation of water in Europe. 

Also read: Water theft in Andalucia

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