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Government officials announce regional water restrictions that will affect millions of people amid drought: 'Reservoirs are still at very low levels'

"It is complicated to foresee when the drought emergency will be lifted."

"It is complicated to foresee when the drought emergency will be lifted."

Photo Credit: iStock

Dwindling water levels in Catalonia in northeast Spain have created a crisis that government officials are addressing with water rationing.

What happened?

As explained in Catalan News, the Catalan government announced in April that water restrictions will remain in place during the summer months amid an ongoing drought emergency. This decision was made despite a recent batch of rainfall in March that helped Catalonia avoid progressing to a Level 2 drought emergency that was planned for Spain's Ter-Llobregat water system, which serves Barcelona and its metropolitan area.

Recent data released from the Catalan Water Agency reportedly revealed that reservoirs in the Ter-Llobregat system are now at 17.8% of their capacity, up from 16% in March.

The rain was enough to allow water restrictions to remain as they are, as Patrícia Plaja, a government spokesperson, said after a meeting on the ongoing drought, "There will not be more, but neither less." However, the government warned that this doesn't mean the "extreme drought" situation is nearing its end.

"We will continue with Level 1 of the emergency plan in the vast majority of the territory, and it will not be required to implement new restrictions, but we must continue to be aware of the situation and that reservoirs are still at very low levels," Plaja added.

Why is this concerning?

The Catalonia region is an attractive tourist destination because of its popular beach areas of Costa Brava, and it is also home to a reported population of 7.7 million people. The region includes Barcelona, which is the second-largest city in Spain.

The difficulty of predicting when rain is coming to the region has made it hard to determine when the water restrictions will be lifted.

"It is complicated to foresee when the drought emergency will be lifted," said Josep Vidal, the Climate Action secretary general.

Spain isn't alone in resorting to water rationing, as it was also reported last month that Colombia has employed the practice after the three reservoirs that supply the capital of Bogota with 70% of its water were discovered to be at 16.9% capacity after the El Niño weather phenomenon at the end of 2023.

Extreme weather events like these have long existed, but the ongoing issue of climate change has led to a significant increase in such occurrences. Reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and other environment-damaging gases would go a long way toward helping decrease the chances of these dangerous climate changes.

What can be done about this?

For now, the Catalan government is moving forward with the water restrictions that are already in place. This includes ruling out sailing tank boats with water and keeping swimming pools closed under these current conditions.

"We are studying it as towns have asked for permission, and we understand that climate refugees, such as swimming pools, have to be planned due to a climate emergency situation," Vidal said.

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