Water scarcity in Spain – Barcelona is drying up

First, read “The most precious resource I & II” again, then have a look at this:

Water scarcity in Spain turns out to be a severe crisis and causes annoyance amongst some regions which are competing for the scarce water. A long-standing drought – some call it the worst drought for the last 60 years – made vast areas of southeast Spain dry up even more quickly. And as no action was taken for a long time, the situation has become threatening for some places like Barcelona. The metropolis struggles to provide water to its 5 million inhabitants. The city’s drinking water supply could collapse in fall unless heavy rains recover the water reservoirs. The rivers that are tapped by Barcelona for water are already at a low level and can’t provide more water. Besides, the hydropower plants along these rivers produce less than half of the electricity they used to produce. Now Barcelona is looking for other sources of fresh water and considers importing water from France. They plan to build a pipeline from the river Rhone in southern France along the Pyrenees to Barcelona. Other ways of getting water are the desalination of water and tapping the river Ebro. Water desalination is problematic as it takes a lot of energy and will increase Spain’s CO2 emissions – which are amongst the highest per capita in Europe anyway. Whatever measure is taken, Barcelona’s citizens will definitely face very high water prices in the future; after all it will be their job to finance the elaborate, but vital projects. Hiked up prices will encourage Barcelona to work even harder to save water. For now, irrigation, car washing as well as filling up pools and fountains is prohibited.  

And of course, there are many other regions in Spain which face painful water shortages. Local politicians fight with each other and the government about who has the right to tap the rivers and in which amount.

Another problem which adds to the shortage of fresh water is the increased danger of forest fires. Lots of forest fires occur allover Spain in summer, but in recent times, even in winter some forests burn. And with less forests spending shade, the drying-up accelerates and areas turn into deserts.

Similar developments can be seen all around the Mediterranean. A study by the WWF indicates that vast parts of the Mediterranean countries will be deserts in 20 to 30 years. Especially in Spain, agriculture is the #1 consumer of water and efficiency is unfamiliar. Spain’s farmers enjoy one of the lowest prices of water in the EU and can afford wasting more than 50% of the water in leaky conduits. Moreover, the tourism industry requires more and more water for golf courses, pools and the tourists themselves. Opening up desalination plants won’t solve the problem and it is expensive and its emissions contribute to global warming which is the major cause of the current crisis. Therefore, saving water, improving efficiency and fixing leaks are the most sensible measures.

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=950DE5D9103FF93AA25754C0A96F958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=1

http://assets.panda.org/downloads/wwf_drought_med_report_2006.pdf

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3 Comments

Filed under Environment, Uncategorized

3 responses to “Water scarcity in Spain – Barcelona is drying up

  1. Pingback: First water shipment arrives in Barcelona « What Matters

  2. Pingback: Is a global water crisis looming? « What Matters

  3. This is very hot information. I’ll share it on Delicious.

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