SPAIN’S Catalunya region is to ramp up water restrictions from February 1 due to the ongoing drought with up to 202 municipalities being forced to reduce consumption.
Measures will include restrictions on filling public swimming pools and using showers in sports facilities.
The region confirmed on Tuesday that it will enter a drought emergency phase from next month and the water consumption ratio for restricted areas will come in at up 200 litre per person per day at the first level.
This limit will be lowered to 180 litres in a second stage, and to 160 litres in a third stage if the drought continues to worsen.
Of the 202 municipalities affected, 70 towns in the Barcelona metropolitan area and Girona will use wells and water tankers to guarantee drinking water to residents.
Other measures included in the emergency phase will see the banning of filling up swimming pools as well as private pools and ornamental fountains plus the watering of trees and gardens.
The Catalunya government will also restrict the use of water for sporting facilities- be they fields and courts- which includes cuts to swimming pool refills unless centres can economise elsewhere.
If further restrictions are needed, refilling and cleaning pools will be stopped, which in effect severely limits any use, and that would also culminate in showers being stopped at centres.
The regional government’s priority is to guarantee water supplies which is why it says it is working on several solutions such as the expansion and construction of regeneration infrastructures, water treatment plants and desalination plants; or reducing the ecological flows of the Llobregat, Ter and Muga rivers, as allowed by the Special Drought Plan if problems get even worse.
Last week’s occasional rain did bring much relief to the headwaters of the Ter and Llobregat rivers- the sources that supply reservoirs serving areas like Girona and Barcelona, which remain at just 17% of their capacity.
It is the harshest and most intense drought since records began in Catalunya with only two periods of normal rainfall in the last three years during the summer of 2020 and the spring of 2021.