Spain faces historic drought
While emergency measures have just been announced in Andalusia and Catalonia, the whole country is currently affected by future water shortages. Eventually, scientists fear that energy resources will become insufficient in Spain, leading to climate migration phenomena.
Photo: La Razon
More than 75% of the country is currently threatened by desertification. The lack of rain, the repeated episodes of heat waves but also the resource management system are in question. In the future, we will have to know how to anticipate » peak tension episodes“said the Spanish Minister for Ecological Transition.
And for good reason, this summer the water reserves fell to less than 40% of their capacity, ie 20 points less than the average of the last ten years over the same period. In Europe, Spain is thus one of the countries that exerts the most pressure on its water resources, especially since it is also the one that recorded the most areas burned following fires in 2022, i.e. more than 245,061 hectares, a record.
Restrictions that question
Faced with drought and the risk of shortages, the authorities have taken measures to restrict water in Andalusia and Catalonia, two regions where reserves do not exceed 25% in certain places, despite the developments made. In fact, more than 1,200 dams were built during the 20th century in Spain to cope with water shortages, the highest figure in Europe in relation to the number of inhabitants.
Photo: Llosa del Cavall hydroelectric dam
But why restrict water to essential uses, if lawns continue to be watered during the heat wave, as well as football pitches or golf courses? » While drought is a meteorological phenomenon, scarcity results from economic, technical and political actions.s”, emphasizes Luis Babiano, director of the Spanish Association of Public Water Supply and Sanitation Operators.
Another major problem that pushes the Spanish model to its limits is that of agricultural uses. Intensive agriculture monopolizes nearly 80% of the country’s water resources, particularly for plantations unsuited to the dry climate of Spain, such as those of the avocado tree, mainly intended for export.
Environmental associations then denounce an inconsistency between the desire to set consumption limits for the population, and the authorization which is made to use large quantities for agricultural activities, the products of which will not even be used by the local population. . .
A worrying situation
The numerous heat waves, the virulent fires, the lack of rain and the excessive flow devoted to irrigation are thus the main causes of the drought. But with global warming, these malfunctions are likely to repeat themselves, or even return to normal.
Photo: Converses a Catalunya
It is therefore the whole management of energy in Spain that is called into question. “DMany villages experience power outages not only due to lack of rainfall, but mostly due to lack of investmentobserves Luis Babiano. Especially since this year, it is the two types of observable drought that are combined. The first, called “hydrological”, refers to the storage of water, while the second, called “meteorological”, refers to periods without rain, the duration and frequency of which increase with climate change.
Spain will therefore have to quickly review its model, which now seems obsolete, in order to be able to manage the next periods of drought which are expected to be even longer and more intense. This summer, more than 47% of European territory was placed on drought alert, including 17% on serious alert.