Photo Credit: Generic photo of cracked soil by National Park Service (Source). Free license by RAWPixelcom.
01 Mar 2024

Barcelona in a water shortage emergency since February 1st - State of Pre Emergency since November 2023


CLIMATE CHANGE: The declaration of a drought emergency in Catalonia comes after months of warnings and signals the severity of the water scarcity situation in the region. 

Reports indicate that Catalonia is experiencing its worst drought on record, highlighting the urgent need for measures to conserve water resources and mitigate the impact on communities, reports EuroNews.com. 


READ MORE: Mexico City nearing "Day Zero" for water shortages in the city


The Ministry for Foreign Action and European Union  reported  on February 29 that  the Government of Catalonia has today declared the Drought Emergency, one phase of the Special Drought Plan for the Ter Llobregat system, which includes 202 municipalities, with six million inhabitants, once it has fallen below 16% of reserves, as established by the plan. 

According to the EU gencat article, this measure comes into effect once the resolution of the director of the Catalan Water Agency (ACA) is published in the Official Gazette of the Government of Catalonia (DOGC) and involves a reduction in water use for certain purposes.

Starting from February 1st, strict water restrictions will be imposed on 80% of the Catalan population, including the city of Barcelona. These measures are aimed at reducing water consumption and ensuring that available resources are managed efficiently during this critical period.

According to MirageNews.com, the UB's Water Research Institute says Eastern Catalonia now  faces worst the drought in 200 Years:

"The fact that the last three years have been the driest years in the annual rainfall series at the Fabra Observatory of Barcelona, since 1914, has a very low probability of occurrence. This is an absolutely exceptional situation", notes UB professor Martín Vide.


239 municipalities in emergency

The Drought Plan sets a limit of 200 liters per inhabitant and day on average per municipality in the emergency scenario. This figure includes domestic consumption, economic activities, health centers, municipal uses, and losses in distribution networks, among others.

Regarding household consumption, it is recommended to be around 90 liters per inhabitant and day. The rest of the measures related to the emergency scenario for other uses (industrial, agricultural, livestock, recreational, and municipal) can be consulted at this link.

The declaration of a drought emergency underscores the importance of proactive measures to address the challenges posed by climate change and water scarcity. It also highlights the need for long-term strategies to manage water resources sustainably and build resilience against future droughts.

“We are entering a new climate reality,” Catalonia’s regional president Pere Aragonès said when announcing the emergency.

Catalan authorities declared a state of pre-emergency in November last year. At this point, high temperatures have lowered the already low water levels in reservoirs.

"Our reserves are below 16%. The situation is critical in Barcelona and around Girona, so we have to take stronger measures," Catalan government official Laura Vilagrà told Spanish radio station RNE on Wednesday.


40 months without rain

The prolonged lack of rain in Catalonia, spanning almost 40 months, has significantly worsened the water scarcity situation in the region. This extended period of drought has depleted reservoirs, aquifers, and other water sources, posing serious challenges for both urban and agricultural water supplies.

In response to the escalating crisis, Catalan authorities are planning to convene with Teresa Ribera, Spain's Minister of Energy and Climate, next week. The purpose of this meeting is likely to discuss potential solutions to address the water shortage, including the possibility of sourcing water from other territories if deemed necessary in the coming months.

"Southern Europe is experiencing potentially critical drought conditions. The most affected regions are the Mediterranean coast of Spain, central and southern Italy, Greece and the Mediterranean islands," the Copernicus Emergency Management Service told Euronews.


Photo Credit: Generic photo of cracked soil by National Park Service (Source). Free license by RAWPixelcom.