Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Rain Man

So the proposed water transfer from the River Ebro to Barcelona has finally been cancelled. After weeks of rain, the reservoirs that serve Barcelona are looking very much healthier. It's good news for the 600 property owners who were facing compulsory purchase orders for the project, and also probably good news for the parties forming the Catalan government. They no longer have to pretend to be in favour or against the measure depending on which part of Cataluña they find themselves in at the time.

I can't resist pointing out that it began raining in Barcelona on the first day of my visit to that city about 6 weeks ago. It rained a lot on me in England last week too. Then my planned visit to Bilbao for this weekend got cancelled because the place where I was going to stay got flooded last week. Amazing isn't it? I suppose it's almost inevitable that someone will say it's just coincidence. The River Ebro is currently running so high that parts of the site of this year's Expo in Zaragoza got flooded last week. Nothing to do with me, but hugely ironic given that water is the theme of the Expo; visitors could be issued with their own diving equipment. One seemingly paradoxical effect of all of this rain is that it could significantly increase the risk of forest fires in Spain this summer. The late surge of vegetation provoked by so much rain means that when the sun starts to shine there will be much more dry, brown grass there to burn.

The last word on the subject of drought should go to Jordi Pujol, the Big Daddy of modern nationalist politics in Cataluña, who will probably be feeling particularly smug over what has happened. A few weeks ago, before it started raining, he was asked what would be the solution to the water problem. "Oh great and wise sage, what will stop our people from going thirsty?" "LLoverá", Pujol replied.

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