The historic drought persists, desperation grows, and some councils, with the competition and the great responsibility of supplying drinking water to residents regardless of their size and budget, decide to try their luck underground. In the villages, since ancient times, they have trusted the Saurians. Small municipalities, without the possibility of supplying themselves with drinking water by connecting to the large networks, play a last card with the construction of new wells.
This is the case of Riudecols (Baix Camp), with 1,200 registered inhabitants and sub-minimum water resources. Since the spring they depend on tankers, now two or three a day. They contacted a saurian, Pere Sanromà, whom they had seen in the media, and he proposed to build a well at a point on the municipal football field.
The first well failed, with barely 1,000 liters per hour, and the second one did go ahead, although the flow rate is reduced, 2,000 liters per hour (48,000 l per day).
"It didn't go very well", admits Sanromà. "But it's water! Before this drought, a 5,000 liter well was rubbish, but the situation is dramatic", adds the octogenarian, who says he has never experienced such a critical situation.
"Without this well we would probably have had to close the municipal swimming pool early", explains Beatriz Mayordomo, the mayoress of Riudecols. "The situation is extreme", he adds. After consulting with Sanromà, another local saurín volunteered to fetch water and, according to the mayoress, "marked the same point with a difference of two meters".
In Masllorenç (Baix Penedès), also with the help of saurín, they found a vein located at a depth of about 220 meters. The village, with almost 600 residents, still depends on water tanks from the summer of 2022. The well, next to the football field and which they say has a very good flow rate (40,000 liters per hour), has not yet it is operational, pending the latest analytics and permits. "If all goes well, it will be operational in mid-September and we will be able to stop depending on the cisterns", confides Joan Miró, the mayor.
Riudecanyes (Baix Camp), with a swamp in its municipal area, which is at a dramatic 5% of capacity, has passed a few days ago into the emergency phase of the drought plan of the Catalan Water Agency (ACA ). They have been looking for alternatives for weeks, and suffer the anguish of running out of water to drink.
With the help of several saurians from the town itself, they are looking for new wells, but so far they have not been successful. The City Council is preparing in case they have to be supplied with tanker trucks, with water that would mix with that of the swamp. "It was a situation that was expected to happen if it didn't rain for a long time", lamented Ernest Roigé, mayor since June, in a letter addressed to residents after entering the emergency phase.
There are saurians who are working in anonymity, discreetly, after criticism from the scientific community, which warns that they act without any basis or real knowledge and that, in addition, they put at risk the few underground waters that exist. Some saurian don't want to show their face. It is the case of the one who has changed, at least for now, the future of Alforja (Baix Camp).
The municipality, in the interior of Camp de Tarragona (2,000 inhabitants), depended on the cisterns for a year. The City Council, without a connection to the water from the mini transfer of the Ebro, had to shell out 240,000 euros in one year to pay for the almost daily transport of drinking water in cisterns.
In the middle of the drought, the media, as was the case with La Vanguardia, explained the critical situation of Alforja along with that of other municipalities. An octogenarian from the province of Lleida saw the desperation of the residents of Alforja and began to review, from his home, the map of the municipality. He marked a spot on the map, they say, where he believed a well could be made. A call from the saurín, who demanded to remain anonymous and did not charge a single euro, encouraged Alforja City Council to try their luck. The supposed point to make the well was located on private land. With the permission of the owner, and after consulting with a local saurín, the City Council decided to build the well. "We are much better, we are using the well we found to supply the municipality with almost 180 cubic meters of water per day (180,000 liters). It allows us to see the summer in a different, more positive way, we are very happy, otherwise it would have been a very complicated summer", says Joan Josep Garcia, mayor of Alforja. The well water must be mixed with other own resources because it has nitrate levels slightly above the permitted limit.
The ACA, with jurisdiction over a public resource such as groundwater, is the one that must authorize wells, whether on public or private farms. The public body has registered a notable increase in requests in the last two years. In 2021, it received 41 requests to legalize wells, almost seven times more than the six in 2020. In 2022, the last year with available data, 94 new well concessions were granted. Many private individuals also turn to the saurins to save crops or find drinking water to supply homes outside urban centers. In many cases without success. "It's our daily bread, we find more and more dead wells", laments Sanromà, who has worked for more than 60 councils throughout his career. He charges between 200 and 300 euros per well. He doesn't move for money. "We are not yet aware of what is to come."