The water shortage in Spain is getting critical
Some information on the water situation in Spain
Today I want to write about the water situation in Spain. I came across an article (which I had saved) that forced me to realize the situation is getting worse. The article is from 9 December 2017 and it caught my attention at the time, so I saved it in my file and today, it inspired me to write a post.
I came to Spain in 1975 and moved to my organic farm in 1981. I have seen how the weather has changed. The winters are kind of warm with a midday temperature of 20C and then summer comes and the temperature rises. The autumn and spring are really short lived and you hardly notice them.
Having your own water is a blessing
I am lucky that I have my own water wells. One source is a drilled well for domestic use and the other is a large dug well owned by my neighbor that I have irrigation rights to. His property and mine were originally owned by one family and now his ecological avocado farm surrounds my property on 3 sides.
Over the years I have become conscious that having water is of utmost importance. Luckily I have what one calls a mature garden. I started planting it so many years ago and the trees have grown big and provide shade in many places, which is beneficial for the smaller plants growing below the trees.
Training my garden to survive on little water
More than 30 years ago, I trained my garden to be happy with a hand water ration every second week. My flower pots get watered once a week. As plants have a certain type of intelligence they go deeper with their roots and survive very well. It takes a 7-hour day to water the forest of trees I have cultivated and then 1 more hour for the patio.
The 100 orange trees I have are on a separate field, south of the house, and are hooked up on a drip system. During the “winter” (or should I say the not-summer season), the irrigation system is not needed. The other 7-8 months of the year, I water these orange trees 3 times a week and each time they get 5 to 6 hours of water with this system. Of course, it is very dependant on the rainfall when the irrigation system has to be started.
By the end of the summer, you can clearly see they are kind of exhausted and absolutely enjoy the first good rain which might come in October. If we are lucky, we get rain in September as well. That means that from March, or at the latest April, the drip system is being used. I have come across this new type of irrigation drip system which can save 20% more.
Spain has one of the cheapest water bills
Spain has around 1300 water reservoirs spread over the country and the water bill presented to its citizens is one of the lowest in Europe. Around 85% of the available water is used for agriculture and livestock. These last 20 years, the water requirements for the country have only increased by 20%. On the other hand, around 25% of the available water is lost through cracks in its deteriorating distribution system. A system that is in serious need of repair.
Experts came together to talk about this situation
Ernesto Tejedor, investigator of the Climate Group of the Zaragoza University found out that 8 of the 10 driest years happened in this past half-century. This study evaluated tree rings in forests of the Turolense Iberian System.
Mr. Tejero pointed out that as temperatures rise because of Climate Change, there will still be evaporation. This suggests that even if it would rain the same as it does presently, we still would have less water due to the increased evaporation rates. Another factor affecting water supply is that there are more people and more tourists which demand water. Putting these 2 factors together it is understandable Spain is in a water crisis.
Climate Change is real and affecting Spain, says Ana Casals. The country is influenced by the Oscillation of the North Atlantic (NAO) which significantly affects the volume, frequency, and duration of rainfall on the Iberian peninsula. It sometimes happens that an anticyclone from the Azores hinders the bad weather from coming more to the south and Spain does not get rain.
The natural pattern of the NAO has not been studied enough to really understand how it functions but it seems clear that climate change influences it. It so happens that the north of Europe is wetter than normal and in the south, it is drier.
Ecologist Julio Barea says that to manage drought you have to start when you still have water. A real drought is sure to come, so politicians, authorities and the public, in general, have to be made aware of the seriousness of this national problem. There are 1 million illegal wells, which should be closed. Laws should be updated on this subject. As the saying goes, water belongs to everybody and one should not waste it. The fact that around 25% of the available water is lost through an inadequate system of distribution makes one think.
In the south, many farmers have changed to drip systems and that does help. But when these savings are used to amplify the export possibilities by the big companies, it does not help. It appears that there are 3.5 million hectares in cultivation, which need watering and that is getting to be too much.
The system of bringing water long distance is not the solution. Desalination facilities are very costly, so one should learn to waste less. It starts with education within the family and schools. It should be a collaboration to educate all, starting with the children, about the need and importance of water.
The price in Spain, depending on where you live, of course, is approximately Euros 2.18 per cubic meter. In Denmark, it seems to be like Euro 7 per cubic meter. Because it is relatively cheap here does not mean we should waste it.
Sometimes people come up with crazy ideas. Like building the biggest artificial beach of Europe in Alovera, in the province of Guadalajara which is an extremely dry place. To have golf courses where it is very dry is neither a good idea and only acceptable if it is watered with recycled water. Still, it seems when recycled water is used one tends to over water. Neither should one wish for big fields of corn as that is a crop which requires a big amount of water.
When one realizes there are 2000 million people in the world who have very limited access to clean drinking water and have to walk hours to go and fetch it, perhaps then we will start treating water with more respect.
Education starts at home. When you brush your teeth, no need to keep the water running. This applies to washing your hands as well. Taking a shower would save quite a bit of water if you wet yourself first, turn the water off, soap and then rinse yourself.
You can put a building block in the water tank of your toilet and when buying a new toilet opt for the type which has both, a small and big flush. Train your garden to a scarcer water program. You do this when the water season starts like March or April. Your garden will understand and adapt.
When I was in Florida, my friend watered her big flower pots every day and I was really surprised. Especially when in Florida the humidity is a lot higher than here. Your car does not need a wash every week, just keep the windows clean. If we all do our bit the drought will appear later than expected. I think that is a very valid reason to start saving water today.
Source: Sur Newspaper, Article of 9 December 2017 by Joseba Vazquez
Photo Source: Pixabay
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