Drought latest in Spain: Water brought in by ships risks being contaminated, expert warns

A LEADING expert has warned that water brought to drought-hit areas by ship runs the risk of becoming contaminated.

Jaime Lora Garcia, the deputy director of industrial safety, radiophysics and environment at the Polytechnic University of Valencia, has described how the maritime transportation of desalinated water entails the risk of seeing a reduction in water quality if appropriate boats are not used.

Garcia pointed to the example of when boats carried water from Tarragona to Palma 40 years ago, with tests revealing that the water had suffered a loss in quality during transportation.

However, Garcia stresses that contamination will not pose a risk to the health of the general public, as the water can be adequately treated on arrival with chlorine. 

Catalunya and Andalucia are both in the midst of historic droughts. Credit: Cordon Press

The warning comes after Spain’s national government agreed to finance the transportation of desalinated water from Valencia to drought-hit Catalunya.

The government, in collaboration with local water utility companies, revealed that up to 40,000 cubic metres of desalinated water could be moved per day, whilst work will begin on building two desalination plants on the Catalan coast at a cost of up to €467 million.

Catalunya’s regional government recently announced an emergency as an historic drought persists.

Residents across the region, which includes Barcelona, Spain’s second city, have come under water-saving restrictions, including a ban on the filling of swimming pools, public showers and washing cars.

The region has experienced below-average rainfall for 40 consecutive months as reservoir levels dwindle.

Current reservoir levels across Spain, as of February 6. Credit: X/embalses.net

Similar measures could be introduced in Andalucia which is currently in the midst of its longest drought in 50 years.

Juanma Moreno, the Junta president, announced last Monday, January 29, a new investment package worth €217m that includes new desalination plants and money for municipalities to fix leaky pipes, a key source of water loss.

Andalucia’s reservoir levels are operating at just 22.21% of their capacity – Malaga’s reservoirs are only 15.75% full, whilst Almeria’s reserves have fallen to below 9%, the lowest level of any province in Spain.

Moreno recently stated that the region would need at least 30 days of rainfall in order to prevent restrictions being imposed this summer, with residents fearful of draconian cuts akin to the infamous drought of 1995.

However, heavy rain is forecast this Friday which local residents and authorities hope will help to replenish reservoir levels. 


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