Spain’s Catalonia region declares drought emergency, imposes water restrictions

Spain’s Catalonia region declares drought emergency, imposes water restrictions

Move marks 1st time regional government issues state of emergency over drought in 24 municipalities

By Alyssa McMurtry

MADRID (AA) - The government of northeastern Spain’s Catalonia region declared a “drought emergency” on Wednesday in 24 municipalities and will begin to impose significant water restrictions next week.

“We’re coming off 30 months of drought,” said Samuel Reyes, director of the Catalan Water Agency (ACA), at a press conference.

It marks the first time that the region has raised a high alert level in an area possibly due to drought. The emergency protocol comes from Spain’s recently passed plan to cope with a lack of rain.

The municipalities in the northeastern province of Girona get their water from an aquifer with historically low levels and are also the most affected regions.

The other two towns under a drought emergency are south of Barcelona and get their water from a reservoir that is 6% full. In total, around 25,000 people will be affected.

Under the state of emergency, the towns must limit water consumption to 200 liters (52.8 gallons) per capita per day. Although there were mild water restrictions in the same area, the Catalan Water Agency said consumption increased in July to 243 liters (64 gallons). However, the new regime will fine towns surpassing the maximum water usage.

Around 6 million people in Catalonia have been under mild water restrictions for months. One of the most apparent consequences of those laws are dried out parks and gardens in cities like Barcelona, as it is not permitted to water green areas like parks. But not everyone has been following the rules, and Reyes said that in some towns, you can still see lush gardens and greenery.

Towns and residents in the affected area will not only have to stop watering plants but reduce per capita consumption, reduce industrial water consumption by 25% and completely stop watering crops.

Reyes urges citizens to reduce their water usage but said they should not worry about having their water cut off. Water cuts, he said, were often “counterproductive,” as residents begin to fill up bathtubs or hoard water when it is turned on. Instead, he encouraged them to install equipment that lowers water pressure.

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