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Barcelona Declares Drought Emergency with Strict Water Rules and Fines

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Barcelona, along with 80% of Catalonia’s population, is now under stringent water restrictions as the region faces its most severe drought on record. The Catalan government has declared a drought emergency, prompting measures that include fines for activities like washing cars, watering gardens, and filling swimming pools. The unprecedented situation has led to concerns about the region’s water reserves, which have dropped below 16%, with critical conditions in Barcelona and around Girona.

Catalonia’s authorities have outlined a three-phase plan based on the severity of the drought:

  1. First Phase:
    • Water consumption limited to 200 litres per person per day.
  2. Second Phase:
    • Further reduction to 180 litres per person per day.
  3. Most Severe Phase:
    • Consumption limited to 160 litres per person per day.

These measures are in response to the region’s nearly 40-month-long lack of significant rainfall, exacerbated by high temperatures that have further depleted water levels in reservoirs. The extreme dry spell has prompted the Catalan government to enforce these restrictions to conserve water resources.

Fines for violating these regulations range from €50 for minor offenses, such as washing cars or watering gardens, to up to €3,000 for serious water-related offenses in Barcelona. Additionally, local councils may face fines to ensure closer monitoring of water consumption.

The emergency measures also extend to agriculture and industry, aiming to reduce water usage for crop irrigation by 80%, livestock by 50%, and industry by 25%. The southern part of the region, which is fed by the Ebro river, is in comparatively better shape due to its lower population density.

Catalonia’s prolonged dry period is attributed to climate change, with the entire Mediterranean region expected to experience accelerated warming in the coming years. Experts highlight the urgent need for water resource management and planning in the face of potentially critical drought conditions.

While Catalonia has employed desalination and water recycling systems, accounting for 55% of water consumption, there are discussions about importing water by boat if necessary, acknowledging the associated challenges and costs. The region’s commitment to water conservation and exploring alternative sources reflects the ongoing efforts to navigate the impacts of climate change on water availability.

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