Spain Fears Drinking Water Shortages As Record Drought Continues

Thursday, April 20, 2023 | Tag Cloud

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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News

BARCELONA, SPAIN (Worthy News) – Residents in one of Europe’s largest urban areas have been warned there may be no drinking water in their homes by September as Spain struggles with its longest drought in living memory, Worthy News learned Thursday.

The emergency could impact nearly five million people living in Barcelona and its surrounding areas. “If it continues like this, the Catholic Churches here will no longer be able to baptize children,” said a 56-year-old therapeutic yoga teacher, Michel Koopman. “I have been living here for more than 30 years, and it hasn’t been this bad ever,” the Dutchman told Worthy News. “It seems strange that tourists are still allowed to swim in large pools at resorts while a water emergency is coming.”

They aren’t alone. Across the country, people face the impact of an extensive lack of rain, with farmers desperately trying to save their crops.

Additionally, the European Union’s European Commission has warned that the drought in Spain, the world’s largest olive oil producer, could halve the country’s output in 2023 compared with the previous year.

That was expected to impact world markets as Spain usually supplies about 40 percent of the world’s output. Already, heatwaves when the olive trees were flowering last spring and the severe drought since last summer in Spain and number two and four producers, Italy and Portugal, have shrunk stocks. “It’s not only impacting food in the broader world. Here in Spain, almost everything involves olives somehow,” noted Koopman.

Spanish exporters’ association Asoliva said recently there would be at least 10 percent less olive oil available worldwide this year from the 3.1 million tonnes produced in the season ending in 2021.

“Every day that goes by without rain, the forecasts get worse,” added Dcoop, Spain’s largest olive oil producers’ cooperative. The shortages have led to increased prices. The price hike was initially triggered by a scarcity of sunflower oil last year after Russia invaded Ukraine. But industry estimates estimate that the drought, soaring inflation, and costlier fertilizers push prices upwards by as much as 60 percent.


In Spain, a liter of virgin olive oil is sold for roughly over 7 euros ($7.67), while in February 2022, the price was below 5 euros. “Olives, even broccoli, become very expensive,” Koopman noted.

Elsewhere Spain’s water resources for drinking water reservoirs, including rivers, are rapidly drying up, with several only at roughly 20 percent capacity, Spanish authorities say. And with many of the fish dying, the water is being polluted in different areas, explained Koopman.

Climate-change-fearing scientists link the drought to what they believe is dangerous global warming, though several experts caution that Spain has seen periods of drought in the past. And Spain’s Ecological Transition Ministry says that while the situation is “worrying,” no current drinking water restrictions exist.

However, Koopman noticed that localized agricultural and industrial water restrictions have been occurring in the autonomous community of Catalonia, including in and around its capital Barcelona, since November 2022. “Potable water is forbidden for use in washing cars or filling
private swimming pools.”

Land heat waves have become commonplace in Spain and many other countries around the Mediterranean, with dramatic side effects like wildfires, droughts, crop losses, and uncomfortably high temperatures, according to concerned meteorologists.

“The northern Basque Country still has some rain, but here in Catalonia, it’s bone dry,” Koopman said.

But he hasn’t given up hope. “There is a Spanish saying about ‘En abril, aguas mil,’ which roughly translates as ‘Lots of rain in April.'”Miracles do happen, suggested Koopman.

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