Government relaxes pool rules amid drought

Catalonia pool relabelled as 'Climate Shelters'

Stock image of a hotel swimming pool. Credit: Bernard Gagnon/Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0

Following substantial local council support, the Government of Catalonia is poised to relax restrictions on filling swimming pools labelling them ‘climate refuges.’

On Tuesday, April 16, the government of the Generalitat is expected to finalise a decree law, set to be ratified in the Permanent Deputation on Friday, April 19.

New decree to combat heatwaves

The legislation introduces a novel classification of swimming pools in sports clubs, residential communities, hotels, and campgrounds as ‘climate refuges.’

This designation is part of a broader strategy to mitigate the impact of heatwaves, requiring that any such facilities must offset their water use by conserving in other areas, such as showers.

Local autonomy and regulation

The new rules will allow public and private swimming pools to be filled and refilled as long as they are open to the general public. The power to designate pools as climate shelters will rest with town councils, adhering to the principles of local autonomy.

Private pool owners must negotiate usage terms with their respective councils. Non-designated pools, however, will still be subject to restrictions and cannot be filled or refilled.

The decree also addresses tourist water consumption, capping usage in areas where spending has surpassed thresholds for three consecutive months.

Measures dictate daily limits ranging from 80 to 115 litres per person, depending on the severity of the drought condition.

Reactions to the new measures

La Vangardia reports that Barcelona’s Mayor, Jaume Collboni, has expressed cautious optimism about the changes, hoping to ‘understand the fine print of the decree to know what its scope is and what resources are allocated to apply these extraordinary measures,’ he stated.

Meanwhile, the Gremi d’Hotels of Barcelona has praised the initiative, noting that considering hotels as potential climate refuges is a ‘very positive’ step towards combating the extreme summer temperatures.

The initiative represents a significant shift in policy, aligning public health priorities with environmental sustainability, while providing municipalities with additional tools to manage their local water resources effectively.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.