The Government does not foresee new water restrictions in summer and moves away from the plan to bring it by boat

The Catalan government will not establish new restrictive measures on water consumption for the coming months.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
03 April 2024 Wednesday 16:23
5 Reads
The Government does not foresee new water restrictions in summer and moves away from the plan to bring it by boat

The Catalan government will not establish new restrictive measures on water consumption for the coming months. The latest rains, the savings and the increase in water desalination and regeneration mean that the Barcelona region, areas of Girona and the Costa Brava do not have to extend restrictions for the summer; although the limitations in force in the current emergency phase will not be reduced either. Another consequence of the slight relief from the March rains is that the transport of water by boat would not be done in June, but, in any case, would be postponed until the end of summer or once it has passed (everything will depend on the balance of rains and water consumption).

The rains of recent days, together with the Government's interventions, allow us to maintain level I of the emergency, without increasing the alert level. “It will not be necessary to apply new restrictive measures in the coming months, so we will remain in the emergency situation I that exists in most of the territory,” says spokesperson Patrícia Plaja.

Last March, the rains that fell have allowed us to obtain 20 hm3 of reserves, concentrated mainly in the Ter-Llobregat system. The 16 hm3 gained in this central region have allowed us to recover reserves for two months.

“The month of March has been the wettest month of the last two years,” added Plaja, who did not want to send a message of unjustified optimism, since the reserves in the reservoirs “continue to be low.”

However, despite these improvements, “the perception in the country that we are in an extremely serious situation should not change,” Plaja stressed.

In the case of Tery del Llobregat, reserves are 107 hm3, which represents 17.4% of its capacity. It is a “timid” improvement and insufficient to change to a scenario of less water limitation, although it has the virtue that it breaks the negative trend in the decline of reservoirs that has been uninterrupted since last summer.

“There will be no more restrictions in summer, but there will not be fewer either,” adds the Government spokesperson. It now remains to be seen if more rainy episodes occur in the coming spring months.

Another piece of news that inspires optimism is that water consumption has been reduced by 10% in the metropolitan area of ​​Barcelona in the last year (from March to March).

Regarding the possibility of lifting the emergency in the municipalities that drink from the Ter and Llobregat rivers, the general secretary of Climate Action, Josep Vidal, has defended that it is a situation conditional on the rains that may fall in the coming months, as well such as the generation of more resources and the reduction of water consumption. "It is difficult to say when [the emergency will be lifted]," he said. “What we cannot do is lift the emergency to re-enter after a month,” Vidal declared. However, Councilor David Mascort assured this Wednesday that the Ter-Llobregat system could return to the exceptional phase when reserves increased to 27 or 28%.

In the case of the municipalities that depend on the Darnius-Boadella reservoir, which are in emergency II, the Government has also ruled out tightening the restrictions in the coming months. However, Plaja stated that the situation requires each case to be studied "surgically" to detect if the lack of water worsens in specific areas.

Regarding the possible arrival in Barcelona of ships loaded with desalinated water in Sagunt, a scenario that the Government has been anticipating for months, and in which it has worked together with the central government, Vidal has ruled out carrying out this transport by sea in the coming months. He has stated that this option is only considered in the event that the territory enters emergency phase II, a scenario that would take place once reserves fell below 67 hm³ (they now accumulate 107 hm³.)

"We have always said that we consider the transport of ships at the time when we are expected to enter a level II emergency. We do not rule them out but they will not come into operation in the current current stage of emergency I," said the general secretary of Acció Climate, Josep Vidal.

In parallel, the Catalan government continues its negotiation process with the municipal entities (Federation of Municipalities of Catalonia and Associació Catalana de Municipis) to define an adjustment in the special drought plan that allows municipal swimming pools to be filled, a situation that the current regulations prohibit .

"We are working with the municipalities on how we define what climate shelters are, since climate shelters can also be civic centers or libraries; we will see what the definition is and under what circumstance a swimming pool is declared a climate shelter," Vidal said.

The common objective is for citizens to be able to face the high temperatures expected this summer. However, the spokespersons for the Federation of Municipalities want the Government not to make a restrictive interpretation of the consideration of swimming pools as climate refuges that would mean that some municipalities could open municipal swimming pools and others could not. “In the coming weeks we will give details of all these extremes, since we are aware of the interest that this matter arouses in the municipalities and in many sectors of the population facing the summer; "We won't be long," added Plaja.

"Just like we did last year, in the current state of emergency, we are going to provide for the creation of climate shelters; and that is what we are working on," said Josep Vidal.

On the other hand, and in relation to the regulations that prevent swimming pools from being filled in the emergency phase, the spokesperson indicated that "in general terms, citizens and sectors are complying."

The general secretary also reported that the Catalan executive has already received a request from hoteliers in Lloret de Mar (Selva) to install a water desalination plant that allows them to fill the swimming pools of tourist establishments.

Vidal has indicated that after receiving the request the Government has given them "a return" of the measures that they must comply with and that, although permission has not been given at the moment, "work is being done."

In another order of things, the Catalan Water Agency has already opened 143 disciplinary proceedings against municipalities for having exceeded the water allocation established by the Government, as well as another 20 against companies. Of these files, around thirty have already been resolved, with 24 sanctions paid and one file that has been dismissed. These files correspond to exceedances of the maximum water consumption threshold established for last September, which is the date the file was initiated.