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Event Details

Drought event report

Category: Drought
Observation: 18.08.2008
Continent: Europe
Country: Spain
Area: Statewide
Severity: Hight
Event details
Spain is experiencing its worst drought in 40 years. Climate experts warn that the country is suffering badly from the impact of climate change and that the Sahara is slowly creeping north - into the Spanish mainland. Yet in Spain itself there is little consensus about what is to be done. Indeed, such is the disagreement that journalists and politicians alike are calling it "water wars". A farmer and politician, Angel Carcia Udon, said: "Water arouses passions because it can be used as a weapon, a political weapon, just as oil is a political weapon". And water in Spain has set region against region, north against south and government against opposition. When the city of Barcelona nearly ran out of water earlier this year, the fountains were switched off and severe restrictions were introduced. The government of Catalonia pleaded for water to be transferred from rivers like the Ebro, in neighbouring regions, but they refused. Instead, the city imported tonnes of litres of water from France and accelerated work on the giant desalination plant on the edge of Barcelona, which promises to provide 180,000 cubic metres of water a day. But Barcelona is not alone in its insatiable thirst. Apart from the far north, the entire country is suffering, especially the parched areas on the Mediterranean coast, from Catalonia, down through Valencia, Alicante, Murcia and Almeria. Mr Udon, whose Popular Party (PP) believes in transferring water around the country, said: "It's incomprehensible that, in one country, there is an excess of water in one place and a deficit in another. "Even more incomprehensible is that they expect us to use water from desalination plants, which is expensive and would force us to raise prices." But when the present PSOE Socialist government of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero got into power in 2004, they cancelled all the PP's plans to send water from the north-west to the arid zones of the south-east. Instead, the government is building more desalination plants, adding to the more than 900 already in Spain - the largest number in any one country outside the Middle East. They are working night and day at the one at Llogrebat, close to Barcelona airport. The general manager, Juan Compte Costa, assured me that it was the most cost-effective and energy-efficient desalination plant yet.
Event map:
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