BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Barcelona and large swathes of northeastern Spain face water restrictions as a months-long drought that has devastated crops begins to weigh on human activities in the Mediterranean country.
The measures will affect 6.7 million people, or 80% of the population of the Catalonia region, Patrícia Plaja, spokeswoman for the Catalan administration, said on Tuesday. Plaja said that for now it will not be necessary to limit the use of water inside homes for washing, cooking or drinking, but his government urged citizens to “be aware of the exceptional situation facing the country”.
The measures that will come into effect on Friday will include water reductions for irrigation for crops and industry. City dwellers will not be allowed to use potable water to wash the exterior of homes or cars or to fill swimming pools. More than 500 town halls, including Barcelona, must stop filling public fountains or cleaning the streets with drinking water.
Below-average rainfall that experts have linked to global climate change has shrunk reservoirs and damaged agriculture and the environment across Spain.
Barcelona now becomes the second major city in Spain to limit water use after Seville did so with similar measures in September following an extremely dry and hot summer.
While southern Spain’s reservoirs near Seville are now the driest, Catalonia’s water reservoirs are down to 34% capacity, according to Spain’s Ecological Transition Ministry.
In 2008, a prolonged drought forced the Spanish authorities to bring water to Barcelona by boat to guarantee domestic use. This led to the construction of a desalination plant near Barcelona which, according to local authorities, is the largest in Europe with a production capacity of 60 hm3 in one year. It is now operating at 90% capacity, authorities said.
Plaja said that while the rains eventually bring some relief, “the climatic context (means) that Catalonia will experience longer and more frequent droughts” like other parts of Spain and the wider region.
Climatologists have identified the Mediterranean as one of the regions of the world that will suffer the most from the increase in temperatures due to climate change.
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