Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Fill My Boat With Water

It’s been quite a while since I got as wet in Madrid as I did last night, splashing through the rain to support the doctors of Severo Ochoa. Now that I think about it, Doña Esperanza was showing great interest a couple of years back in the issue of seeding clouds to solve the water problems of the capital. Perhaps there is a connection?

In any case, the rain that has fallen this week in Spain has done little to solve what threatens to be an acute crisis this summer if we don’t get more. Madrid is probably alright for this year, as long as the suburban garden and swimming pool set don’t go crazy. The east of the country has much more serious problems, even in areas like the Pyrenees the reservoirs are at very low levels and the current half year (going by the hydrological calendar beginning in October) is set to be the driest in 60 years.

There has even been some talk of Barcelona getting drinking water shipped in by boat if things don’t improve. Ironically, that water could come from Almeria, which is perhaps the region which has the lowest annual rainfall of all in Spain. A huge new desalination plant in Almeria is currently only operating at a fraction of its capacity, serving the local area around it. So in a crisis further up the coast this plant could end up being used to fill the gap.

Water also features as an issue in the general election campaign. The plan to divert water from the River Ebro to regions such as Valencia and Murcia was abandoned by the current government in favour of more desalination plants. The Valencian regional government, controlled by the PP, has continued to push this plan and wanted it to be included in the party’s policies for the election. However, in a tightly fought contest votes in Aragon count as well; and the opposition to the plan in the regions through which the Ebro passes has made the PP nervous about stressing the issue. It would make little difference, even if this ecologically damaging plan had been implemented no water would have been transferred, because the Ebro is suffering from exactly the same problem as the rivers further south – no rain.

No comments: