Municipalities request that public swimming pools can be opened in the summer

The councils gathered in the Federation of Municipalities of Catalonia (FMC) have intensified the demand in favor of municipal swimming pools being able to open in the summer, a circumstance that the current regulations prohibit in practice due to the drought emergency.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
03 April 2024 Wednesday 11:14
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Municipalities request that public swimming pools can be opened in the summer

The councils gathered in the Federation of Municipalities of Catalonia (FMC) have intensified the demand in favor of municipal swimming pools being able to open in the summer, a circumstance that the current regulations prohibit in practice due to the drought emergency. Specifically, the special drought plan prohibits filling and refilling public and private swimming pools, with the exception of federated sports facilities. If the regulations do not change, it could be very complicated to use the municipal swimming pools.

The councils attached to the FMC have sent the Government the request that the municipal swimming pools can be filled and refilled so that they can be used normally due to the forecast of high summer temperatures. Likewise, they demand a flexible interpretation of the concept of "climatic shelter" referring to swimming pools so that it goes beyond what has been considered so far by David Mascort, advisor of Acció Climática. He declared a few weeks ago that, as a general rule, municipal swimming pools cannot be filled, although he left the door open to studying exceptions if any facility can be classified as a climate shelter. It meant that if a municipality has a library, reading room or air-conditioned spaces for cooling, these places could replace the municipal swimming pools as a climate shelter, so they would stay closed so as not to waste water.

However, the FMC has described this criterion as "restrictive". The president, Eduard Rivas, considers that it could be discriminatory and cause grievances between neighboring towns. "You can't make a rule that is arbitrary and subjective", he says.

Rivas' argument is that, in the case of nearby municipalities, with this criterion it could happen that some councils open the municipal swimming pools and others not. "This could cause an effect from residents of other towns, which would result in saturated swimming pools, angry people and a climate shelter that would not actually be a shelter as such, but a crowded place", warns Eduard Rivas. The FMC proposes an open interpretation to extend this exception to swimming pools that have a public character or use even if they are not necessarily municipal.

In the last plenary session of the Parliament on the drought, the PSC presented different proposals so that the municipal and community swimming pools could be filled. The initiative was approved, but in order for it to materialize, the special drought plan by the Government will have to be modified, which will have to establish how this measure is conveyed and specified. The socialist deputy Sílvia Paneque also believes that it would be acceptable to fill community swimming pools and the swimming pools of tourist establishments (campsites or hotels) that have as their basis an economic activity that justifies it.

"We think that this measure is acceptable, since the impact that filling the pools would have on the overall water consumption would be very small, we estimate that it would be between 1.5% and 2%. It's a small percentage", explains Paneque. The socialists believe that these modifications are not substantial and the Government could approve them without going through the ratification of the Parliament. What the PSC does not accept to fill or refill are single-family private pools in the strict sense.

The PSC has requested the appearance of Mascort in the Catalan Chamber to clarify the degree of implementation of the other agreements that were adopted in plenary on the drought (aid to damaged sectors, measures to promote the use of regenerated water in industry or the go-ahead for councils to award network improvement works through the emergency route...).

The FMC has demanded a substantial reduction in the amount of the penalties provided for in the regulations for municipalities that exceed the water allocation established by the Government.