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The Muga riverbed, in Girona. EFE
Catalonia region in north of Spain likely to enter drought emergency phase with water rationing soon
Drought crisis

Catalonia region in north of Spain likely to enter drought emergency phase with water rationing soon

The regional Generalitat government will decree a state of emergency when the average level of its reservoirs is at 16 per cent of their total capacity. It currently stands at 16.7%

Cristian Reino

Barcelona

Wednesday, 17 January 2024, 13:31

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Catalonia in the north of Spain is preparing to enter an emergency phase in the face of the worst drought in the last century since official data has been recorded.

The region is in a critical situation and its government, the Generalitat, will decree a state of emergency when the average level of its reservoirs is at 16% of their capacity. The reservoirs are very close to this percentage (16.7%) and if it does not rain in the next few days, the entry into an emergency phase will occur around 1 February. "I don't know if in any meeting we have told them that it would be on 1 February, but if we do the numbers that date is quite close," said David Mascort, the Catalan regional minister for climate action, on Tuesday.

The Generalitat's drought plan has three phases for the emergency situation, each of them with more serious restrictions. In phase one of the emergency, each person will have a water allocation of 200 litres per day; in phase 2, 180 litres; and in phase 3, 160 litres.

At a meeting yesterday, regional ministers approved three agreements aimed at optimising the use of water. According to Mascort, in one year, Catalonia has reduced its water consumption by 12%. However, 700 municipalities have complained to the regional government that they have network failures and water losses. According to the Generalitat, some 60 localities could be sanctioned for failing to comply with the measures imposed by the Catalan regional government in recent months.

Water transfer by boat may be adopted in June. The Catalan regional government is negotiating with shipping companies to have vessels ready when necessary. However, no progress has been made on the port of origin.

The use of water to irrigate gardens and green areas, both public and private, will be prohibited, with some exceptions depending on the water source. The irrigation of grass pitches will be allowed in some cases, if the facility compensates the amount spent on irrigation with savings in showers.

Initially, a ban on filling swimming pools was considered, but the Generalitat has relaxed the restrictions. In phase one, pools in which no federated activity is taking place may not be refilled. In the pools of sports facilities, they may be refilled if they compensate with measures such as closing showers.

It will be forbidden to wash cars at home, showers on beaches will remain closed and it will be forbidden to hold recreational events, both public and private, where water is used, whether temporary ice rinks, foam parties or similar activities.

In addition, the Generalitat will reduce water for agricultural use by as much as 80%, for industrial use by 25% and for recreational use by 25%.

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