Spain’s drought challenge and concerns

Dry river bed Credit: François Molle/IRD flickr

In recent years, Spain has been facing its driest period on record, with low precipitation and high temperatures.

This climatic challenge has had profound effects not only on Andalusia in southern Spain but also on regions like Catalunya, the Balearic Islands, and the Canary Islands.

On February 1, the severity of the situation prompted the Catalan government to declare a state of drought emergency, a move followed by over 200 municipalities across Spain.

In response, stringent measures were implemented to control water consumption, including the shutdown of public fountains and beachside showers. Additionally, residential usage was restricted, with individuals limited to approximately 210 litres per person.

Catalan regional president Pere Aragonès reinforced the gravity of the situation, stating during the official announcement of the drought emergency, “We are entering a new climate reality. It is more than likely we will see more droughts that will be both more intense and more frequent.”

Concerns ahead for summer in Andalucia

The Easter holidays brought a glitch of hope as rainfall reached parts of the region.  However, the distribution of precipitation varied significantly, with amounts ranging from 147mm in Almeria Province to only 21mm in Almeria City, and 84mm in Malaga Province.

While the rain provided temporary relief to residents of Andalucia, concerns remain in the air as temperatures reach the peak summer months of July and August.

As the summer season approaches, attention shifts to controlling water consumption, particularly during a season known for its high demand from residents and tourists. In Malaga, authorities have taken prevention measures to manage water usage in public spaces, including shutting off fountains and beach showers.

Fuengirola beach where showers were switched off
Credit: EWN Media Group

Drought repercussions according to residents

The repercussions of the drought extend far beyond the summer enjoyment in Costa del Sol. Concerned residents have taken to social media to express their anxieties about the implications of climate change and regulatory measures.

One reader, posted on the Euro Weekly News Facebook page, expressed fear that the drought could affect business and community pools in Spain, potentially deterring tourists from visiting municipalities. “This is going to be a big problem every year now so let’s hope Spain takes action now. I’ve lived here 17 years now and never known it to be so bad.”

The imminent economic impact on the local economy and small businesses emerged as a primary concern among residents and expatriates in Spain who rely on tourism and travel engagement. Another reader emphasized, “We run a holiday management company, and if the pools are closed over the summer, it will be a disaster. Families will cancel, and it will affect all local businesses.”

Climate change veracity discussion

The discussion of climate change has also gained traction since the drought emergence announcement in Spain municipalities. Some sceptical comments, have been seen regarding climate change, confirming that the drought and high temperatures are “nothing new”, another selection of comments also urged attention to the reality of climate change and its dangers.

They support through social media that the current climate situation is “A big problem for everyone,” and that “Climate change is real unfortunately Spain can expect temperatures of 40 plus.”

From economic worries for local businesses to increased awareness of climate change, initiatives and discussions are being taken across the country to prevent the aggravation of the drought ahead of the summer.

Amidst these challenges, both residents and tourists are encouraged to remain vigilant and adopt water-saving practices to cross the ongoing drought conditions responsibly.

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Written by

Talyta Franca

Talyta Franca, Class 2026, Northwestern University in Qatar.

Comments


    • Robert Smith

      15 June 2024 • 10:05

      And yet they keep building homes for tourists in areas with water shortages, utter madness. Spain does not know what they want. Always complaining about tourists who actually made modern Spain with their spending power but do little about it because they really do need the tourists to spend their money.

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