The Eleventh-century church of Sant Roma de Sau was submerged when the reservoir was constructed in 1962

Groups in small boats are engaged in retrieving fish via nets in Sau reservoir. The concept is to take away them earlier than they die and decay in the water, making it unfit for human consumption.

Right here the water stage has dropped so low – beneath 10% of the reservoir’s capability – that there is already a threat of water silting. Due to this fact, whereas the fish are being eliminated, the remaining water of the Sau is dumped into one other reservoir downstream.

“We try to fill water as soon as possible because the quality was good, especially in winter [but] In spring it gets very, very bad and we try to catch all the fish we can find there,” mentioned Samuel Reyes, director of the Catalan Water Company (ACA).

The Sau Reservoir, situated 100 km (about 62 mi) inland from Barcelona, ​​has equipped water to the town and different cities in the north-eastern area of Catalonia for half a century. However in current months it has turn out to be the clearest image of the worst drought the area has skilled in dwelling reminiscence.

This is as a result of now notorious Eleventh-century church of Sant Roma de Sau, which was flooded in 1962 when the reservoir was constructed.

Whereas the constructing in the reservoir was beneath the water stage when it rained closely, it now stands a number of meters above the water line, surrounded by burnt earth.

In early March this 12 months, the water stage of the Sau reservoir was diminished to simply 8% of its capability

It hasn’t rained constantly for 2 and a half years in this a part of Catalonia. By early March, the reservoir’s water stage had dropped from 55% a 12 months earlier to eight% of its capability.

“I’ve never seen it so empty,” mentioned Agustin Torrent, 70, who has lived close by all his life and visits the church. “It is unhappy once you see [the reservoir] earlier than full. However it is so. It is local weather change and whoever says it does not exist, I do not know what to say.

Though the state of affairs in Catalonia is notably worrying, giant components of the nation are going through related challenges, particularly in the southern and jap areas. In mid-March, reservoirs in Andalusia’s Guadalquivir basin averaged 26% capability, one level beneath inland Catalonia, and in the southeastern Segura basin they had been 36%. This compares to 83% capability in some components of the North West.

In March, the Spanish climate company AEMET introduced that the nation as a complete “continues to find itself in a meteorological drought situation that began a year ago”.

Not all droughts are attributable to local weather change, however elevated warming in the ambiance attracts extra moisture from the Earth, making intervals of drought worse. The world has warmed by about 1.1 °C because the begin of the commercial period, and temperatures are anticipated to proceed to rise except emissions are drastically diminished.

In Europe, areas comparable to Catalonia – which sits on the Mediterranean Sea – are notably uncovered, in keeping with Barcelona-based meteorologist Miguel Manzanares, who research excessive climate occasions on the continent.

“The Mediterranean is one of the most vulnerable regions in terms of climate change,” he mentioned, figuring out nations comparable to France, Italy, Greece and the Balkans as extremely susceptible. “The Mediterranean Sea is a closed sea that forms its own atmospheric environment.”

Nonetheless, there are different components that may make a drought worse. Within the case of Catalonia, Manzanares mentioned this contains the inhabitants of Barcelona and its neighboring cities, which has grown to greater than 5.5 million inhabitants. New restrictions launched by the Catalan regional authorities have severely restricted using water in these areas for laundry vehicles and watering gardens, and industrial water use limits have been diminished by 15%.

“If we can’t grow that many crops… there will be a shortage both in Spain and abroad”, Supply: Agustín García Segovia, Supply description: President, El Prat Agricultural Cooperative, Picture: Agustín García Segovia, President, El Prat Agricultural Cooperative

Spain’s intensive water use for agriculture – which accounts for 80% of complete water use – is one other complicating issue. The native authorities has diminished using water for agriculture by 40%.

This new restrict is an extra downside for farmers in the Barcelona area, comparable to Agustín García Segovia, president of the El Prat agricultural cooperative, who’re already battling a scarcity of rain and unusually excessive temperatures.

“If we can’t grow more crops, there will be less production and there will be shortages,” he mentioned, standing in a patch of artichokes.

“There will be a shortage of product, both in Spain and abroad,” he added. “And that will be reflected in the price increase as well.”

Supply: Meteorological Service of Catalonia

Catalan officers say no additional restrictions ought to be imposed in the brief time period. Nonetheless, as summer season approaches, with anticipated greater temperatures and extra stress on water assets seasonal tourism brings, they’ve realized they’re getting ready for the worst.

“It is a very critical situation,” mentioned Samuel Reyes of the Catalan water authority. “This drought in Catalonia is a marathon. What is worrying is that we’ve not simply been on alert for 2 or so years, we’ve been on alert for 3 or 4 years.


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