State of emergency in Catalonia: New water restrictions in effect from Thursday

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state of emergency

Catalonia is about to declare a state of emergency due to persistent drought. The measure had been in the air for some time. However, the high temperatures of recent days have caused an accelerated drop in water levels in the reservoirs, which have now fallen below 100 cubic hectometres (hm³).

The state of emergency will be officially announced on Thursday morning at the meeting of the interdepartmental committee. Subsequently, the planned restrictions will come into effect as soon as they are published in the Official Gazette of the Catalan Government (DOGC).

State of emergency affects 200 municipalities

The restrictions mainly apply to areas in the provinces of Girona and Barcelona and the Catalan capital itself. The Ter and Llobregat water reservoirs have fallen to 16.3% of their capacity. Therefore, the municipal councils must impose restrictions on domestic use on citizens.

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The prediction is that they will reduce consumption by, among other things, lowering the water pressure. They are also authorised to make cuts per hour, depending on their municipal emergency plans. In total, the measures affect 202 municipalities in the Barcelona region and part of Girona in the so-called hydrological unit Ter and Llobregat

Most important measures

Swimming pools:

  • Hotels, campsites and spas: It is forbidden to fill swimming pools, which may lead to their closure at short notice. Seawater as an alternative is expensive and can burden water supply systems.
  • Indoor swimming pools: Registered with the Catalan government institutions, they may be refilled. However, it is forbidden to fill them from scratch. Water used must be offset by savings in other areas, such as showers.
  • Outdoor swimming pools for organised sports: May also be refilled, provided there is compensation for other water uses.
  • Therapeutic pools: Refills may be allowed in rehabilitation centres, retirement homes or social centres.
  • Private swimming pools: Filling with seawater is allowed, but no other exceptions.

Garden and green areas:

  • Irrigation: Only allowed with regenerated or groundwater, provided it does not harm the drinking water supply. Only survival watering will take place.
  • Monumental trees: May be watered with drinking water, the only exception to the ban.

Sports fields:

  • Watering: Use of drinking water for federated sports fields is prohibited. Clubs must provide their supply of regenerated or groundwater.
  • Compensation: Every litre of water must be offset by savings on other water uses, such as showers and changing rooms.

Recreational water use:

  • Showers on beaches and foot washes: Are banned, as are seasonal ice skating rinks and foam parties, unless they are for organised sports.

Natural water flows:

  • Environmental flows: Will be reduced to less than half to protect ecosystems. Specific rivers such as the Ter, Muga and Llobregat will see drastic reductions.
  • At the same time, it will be allowed to send water to humid areas or lagoons where endangered species live.

The emergency phase has three sub-phases: emergency phase 1, emergency phase 2 and emergency phase 3, which become increasingly restrictive. This week it concerns state of emergency 1. This limits the consumption of drinking water per inhabitant per day to 200 litres per person.

Also read: Climate change Spain: dry showers, empty swimming pools, jellyfish and 50ºC in the beach bar

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