Euro-Mediterranean Information System on know-how in the Water sector
International portal

News Spain's water reserves drop to lowest level in nearly 3 decades

Spain's water reserves have dropped to their lowest level since 1995, according to data released on September by the Spanish Environment Ministry.

After dry summer of record-breaking heat, the country's reservoirs are filled to just 35% of their capacity, and several areas are suffering from a prolonged drought.

The country's south is particularly parched, with the critical Guadalquivir basin that serves much of Andalusia down to just 21% of its capacity.

The lack of rain is also taking a toll on the economy. As rivers run dry, Spain's much-needed hydroelectricity generation has plummeted 34% below the historical average per week.

Meanwhile, the association Asaja estimates that the lack of rains could contribute to losses of around €8 billion ($7.9 billion) in the agricultural sector. Hard-hit crops include high earners like olives, wine, almonds, and sunflowers.

In 2021, Andalusia produced 1.1 million tons of olive oil, but this year the figure is forecast to drop to as low as 500,000 tons.

But some ecologists say Spain needs to put more limits on the agricultural sector to remedy the worrying situation.

"In 2023, there could be an authentic water collapse that could see big cities having to deal with their water being cut," Santiago Martin Barajas, the director of water for Spanish NGO Ecologistas en Accion.

During Spain's drought in the first half of the 1990s, millions of residents and tourists had to live with significant water restrictions.

Around 85% of Spain's water is consumed by the agricultural sector, and Barajas argued that the amount of irrigated lands should be cut significantly.

"We are basically exporting transformed water," he told Spanish broadcaster TVE.

Environmentalists are also concerned by the dramatic scenes in one of Europe's most significant wetlands. In Spain's Donana national park, the largest permanent lake has been reduced to a little more than a puddle.

The tinderbox conditions in Spain this summer also gave rise to the worst wildfire season so far this century.

Meteorologists forecast that this autumn in Spain will also be hotter and drier than normal.

Contact information n/a
News type Nomination
File link
Source of information aa
Geographical coverage Spain,
News date 21/11/2022
Working language(s) ENGLISH