Andalucia’s Water Agency announced last week that the region’s major cities will not have to implement water rationing this summer, despite having suffered the driest rainy season in a four-year-long drought. An Agency spokesman said a mixture of good management, awareness-raising campaigns and people’s active collaboration in water-saving schemes had brought about this happy outcome. He said that while people living in Malaga province were guaranteed water, the countryside might not be so lucky. However, at the time of going to press, the weathermen were forecasting rain for the whole country for Wednesday and Thursday, which will tail off into showers by the weekend. Given that the weather has been acting uncharacteristically all winter, the Environment Minister Cristina Narbona’s wish for a “really wet Spring” just might come true. That would ease the situation in the Doñana National Park which is suffering one of the worst droughts since records began there in 1859. Figures show that the Mediterranean coastline is having the worst drought for the past hundred years, with Catalonia being the hardest hit. The reservoirs which supply Barcelona are at 20% of their capacity and the Catalan regional government and the central government in Madrid are currently engaged in a kind of mini-war. Barcelona wants permission to transfer water from the Ebro River to the north via a canal but Madrid has said no. The idea was first floated by José María Aznar’s government and the Socialists, who were then in opposition, bitterly opposed it. The Socialist government does not want to give ammunition to the opposition by doing a U-turn now and has also nixed a plan to transfer water from one of the Ebro’s main tributaries, the Segre river. The Madrid government has been quick to point out that Catalonia has had twice as much rainfall as most of the other regions – and seven times more than Almeria – but only has two reservoirs, while Valencia, Sevilla and Madrid have eleven each, and Zaragoza and Navarra have eight apiece. The implication is that Barcelona has been lazy when it comes to building dams and will now have to pay an estimated 22 million euros a month to bring in water by ship or train. TheCatalan regional government introduced very strict water rationing at the beginning of last week and was already imposing hefty fines on people caught watering the plants on their balconies or washing their cars. And just forget about the changing the water in the swimming pool.


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