BARCELONA – On Tuesday, the Catalonia region board announced stricter water restrictions for 224 municipalities. The region is experiencing the most severe drought since rainfall records began in 1905. The measures affect up to 6 million inhabitants.
The drought has been going on for 30 months. And, consequently, it is causing a lack of water in the internal basin of the Ter-Llobregat system. This provides water to Girona, Barcelona and the entire urban area of the Catalan capital, among others. However, the basin is now at 28% of its capacity.
With this new phase, around 6 million people can no longer water their gardens. Municipalities are no longer allowed to water public green zones. Until now, that was still allowed two days a week. Furthermore, restrictions on agricultural irrigation will increase from 25 to 40%. In addition, other restrictions will follow.
For domestic purposes, the government sets a maximum of 230 litres of water per person per day (currently 250 litres). This limitation will hardly be noticeable in practice because the daily average consumption in the community is approximately 117 litres.
“In a situation of extreme gravity, we must act accordingly,” said Councilor Teresa Jordà in El País. If the drought continues in the coming months, the government will move to water restrictions after the summer.
The Generalitat also approved a 12-article decree. El País was able to see it and writes that fines for non-compliance with the new rules can amount to a maximum of €150,000 for the most serious offences. The fine system will range from not providing the requested information to the Generalitat (such as data on water consumption) to exceeding established limits, such as watering fields without respecting the restrictions.
According to the new decree, the fine is calculated on the basis of the degree of exceedance of the cubic meters consumed. An amount of €0.30 per cubic metre of excess will be applied.
Seizure of private wells and reservoirs possible
When the emergency phase (the most extreme phase) is declared, an amount of €0.60 per exceeded cubic metre is imposed as a fine. In addition, and this is one of the most important innovations contained in the decree, the Generalitat will also have a tool to seize private wells and other water reservoirs if the situation requires it.”
On Sunday, the director of the Catalan Water Agency warned in El País that residents of Barcelona and the surrounding area can expect water restrictions by the end of 2023 due to the most severe drought of this century.