The effects of the drought in Spain

Viñuela reservoir

Drought is a natural phenomenon that consists of a decrease in rainfall below the average (which would be normal in an area) and, consequently, a decrease in available water resources, both in reservoirs and aquifers. Spain faces, ending 2017, with the most intense drought in the last 20 years.

What can Spain do to stop this situation?

The worst drought

drought in spain

The lack of rainfall is reducing the levels of the reservoirs in the southeast basins and, also alarmingly, those in the northwest. Levels are around 30%, values ​​never seen since 1990.

The water that is dammed, not counting that of the last rains, it is 20 points below the average of the last 10 years. The climate of Spain has been and will always be dry, with drought cycles of more or less 3-4 years. However, this drought is the most intense in more than 20 years.

This situation of lack of water becomes delicate in basins such as the Miño-Sil, Segura, Júcar, Guadalquivir and especially in the Duero, with almost 30% less than 10 years ago.

Given the geographical situation of Spain and the terrain, droughts are quite common. For this reason, 75% of the Spanish territory is susceptible to desertification. In the period 1991-1995 there was already a drought episode similar to this with such low values.

This drought was due to the low rainfall in 2014 and 2016, in which it rained 6% below the average. In addition, springs have less rains and the supply networks to the population lose almost 25% of water.

To all these factors we must add the increase in tourism in almost all of the Spanish territory, they have increased agricultural areas for irrigation and, due to the increase in average temperatures, so does the evaporation rate of the water.

Too dry year

low reservoirs

This hydrological year concluded in October of this year has been very dry in general. The greenest areas of Spain such as Galicia, northern Castilla y León, a large part of Asturias and Cantabria have also suffered a drastic reduction in rainfall.

The driest areas of the year have undoubtedly been Extremadura, Andalusia and the Canaries. In these communities the rainfall did not exceed 75% of the normal value, making it the eighth year with the least rainfall since 1981.

Since this new hydrological year began (2017-2018), the situation has only gotten worse. On the average data of 150 liters per square meter normally collected from October to November, only 63 have been collected. That is, 58% less than normal.

Aftermath of the drought


In many reservoirs in Spain villages have emerged that were under the water given the low water level. These towns they were submerged since the 60s, during the creation of most of the Spanish reservoirs. Some of these towns and monuments are the old church of Santa Eugenia de Cenera de Zalima in the Aguilar de Campoo reservoir (Palencia) and the old town of Mansilla in La Rioja.

One of the main problems that drought causes in populations is the problem of supply. Water cuts are necessary to safeguard water resources for as long as possible. The Government ensures that it is working to the maximum to avoid water restrictions. However, if this situation continues, some populations will have problems with the water supply.

As you can see, making good sustainable use of water is one of the fundamental pillars of a country that continually suffers from drought. Losing 25% in the supply network it is all a waste that we cannot allow. To avoid this situation, the population must be educated to make the most of this precious and scarce asset.

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