In Spain, Barcelona declares a state of drought emergency

In Spain, Catalonia is hit by a historic drought. Regional authorities have declared a state of emergency in Barcelona and its surrounding areas. In this Spanish region in the north-east of the country, due to low rainfall for three years, harvests have fallen and weakened a large number of agricultural operations.

Province of Girona in Catalonia, January 15, 2024. AFP - LLUIS GENE

By: RFI Follow


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With our correspondent in Barcelona,

Elise Gazengel

For three years now in


, it has not rained, or not enough. Technically, the region has been in water deficit for 38 months, since the fall of 2020. To give an idea: it would have to rain for a month non-stop, to compensate for this lack of water, but that would mean that Barcelona would be completely flooded.

This is the longest and most intense drought the region has ever experienced: the level of reservoirs has fallen to 16% of their capacity. Which effectively implies a state of emergency for the vast majority of the territory, that is to say more than 6 million people in 202 municipalities including Barcelona, ​​Girona and all the cities on the coast. 

Also read: What solutions can be implemented in the face of water shortage?

Significant water restrictions expected

This decision, announced by the president of the Catalan regional government, Pere Aragonès, involves new restrictions for some six million people. This emergency means that for the first time restrictions in homes will be imposed, by two means: first a reduction in the pressure in the taps to reduce consumption, then a limitation to 200 liters of water per day and per person (any resident) under penalty of a fine.

In addition, hotel or campsite swimming pools can no longer be filled. As for agricultural use, this time it is 80% less water and 25% reduction for industries. Restrictions have already been applied for the agricultural sector and industry for a year now. Residents have been made aware and have reduced their consumption. But it is insufficient.

Catalonia bets on seawater desalination

The government, for its part, has released 2.7 billion euros to create new desalination and water treatment plants, but this will take time. Last option mentioned if the situation worsens: this summer boats loaded with drinking water could arrive at the port of Barcelona. The simplest solution would be that by then, it would rain.

Also read:Spain: faced with drought, Barcelona is banking on recycling wastewater


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