Water & Irrigation
Juan G. R and Juan G. R. Water crisis in Spain, its effects at the end of autumn 2017.
Water and Irrigation Vol .: 8, No. 1: 14-16, November 2017, Spain.
The current volume of water stored in Spain is 20768 hm3, which represents only 37% of the capacity of the reservoirs. The rivers of the great basins are affected by the drought and in all, the reservoirs of water reservoirs are below the last 10 years. The lack of rain is prolonged and the drought is extended, economic losses are already evident in large areas of Spain. In large basins, the water reservoir is between 30-45% and in the medians it is smaller, ranging from 13 to 31%, the drought is considered the most intense of the last 20 years. Adequate management of surface and groundwater reserves and a rational management of irrigation water is necessary to face the current irrigation campaign and guarantee the next one. Climate change is a reality and the average temperature of air and water are gradually increasing in Spain. An Expert Committee should be created with professionals with long experience in water, irrigation and climate change to combat water crisis in Spain.
The Union of Small Farmers and Ranchers has described as very serious the drought suffered since April by large areas of Spain, especially Castilla y León, Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, Canary Islands and some areas of Castilla-La Mancha and Extremadura, as reported by the agrarian organization in a statement. The organization has indicated that the losses due to excessive heat and lack of rain are already millionaire in cereal crops and rapeseed in dry areas in the producing areas, while irrigated crops, forages and pastures are in serious danger, since the available water is very low or even non-existent, and availability in most cases is insufficient. By the end of autumn 2017, the drought has intensified and the effects of the damage reach all communities in Spain. The drought is considered the most intense of the last 20 years.
UPA notes that Spain is in “hydrological drought status”, where arable crops such as barley, oats and wheat are the most affected, but trees like those that produce nuts are not developing normally either. In addition, he warned that the situation of livestock is very worrying because there is no grass available and farmers must feed livestock based on feed.
In the autumn, the drought has already spread to viticulture, to olive cultivation, affects citrus and fruit crops, cereals, livestock, in many regions there is a shortage of water for crops and water restrictions in urban areas .
The general secretary of the agrarian organization UAGA, has warned in May that the next harvest of winter cereals is lost on the right bank of the Ebro river as a result of the drought. The forecasts of harvest in Aragon are estimated at 1,159,000 tons, 36 percent of the harvest that was collected in 2016, the figure lower than the average of recent years.
The first wave of heat in 2017 began in June with an “episode of high temperatures” in much of the Peninsula, according to the State Meteorological Agency, the weather conditions are marked by an “intense sunning” that favors the overheating of the mass of air that is located and parked on the interior of the Peninsula. It is emphasized that the maximum temperatures reach 40 degrees Celsius and the minimum temperatures do not fall below 20 degrees Celsius during the night. These values will be exceeded in the Tajo, Guadiana and Guadalquivir basins where they will be even more extreme, exceeding 42 º C with minima that do not drop below 25 º C, which reflects that in the next summer the effects of the drought will be even greater .
The capacity of the reservoirs in Spain is 56075 hm3, with a current volume of water reservoir of 20768 hm3, which represents only 37% of the capacity of the reservoirs. The rivers of the large basins are affected by the drought and in all reservoirs of water reservoir is below the last 10 years, with values of water reservoirs of 3312 hm3-43% and 4114 hm3-45% for the basin of the River Ebro and the Guadiana respectively. The large basins of the Tajo, Guadalquivir and Duero rivers are even more affected with a volume of water reservoirs of 4328 hm3-39%, 2532hm3-31% and 2224 hm3- 30% respectively. The basins of medium size in the rivers Júcar 835hm3 -25% and Segura 150 hm3-13% as well as the Guadalete-Bárbate 642 hm3-29%, the Andalusian Mediterranean 364 Hm3- 31% all in the Mediterranean Zone are the more critical affected region in Spain and are below the average in the last 10 years according to the state data the Spanish reservoirs, La Miño -Sil is also affected, is a median basin located on the North slope 1152hm3-28%, www.embalses.net
Within the small basins, those with the greatest reservoir capacity correspond to the Internal Catalonia with a volume of dammed water of 339 hm3-50%, Western Cantabrico 277 hm3- 54% and Galicia Coast 278 hm3- 41% respectively. In the large basins, the reservoir water is between 30-45% of the reservoir capacity, in the medium it is smaller oscillates between 13 to 31% and in small basins it is between 41 -54%.
In the year 2012 in the world report of the irrigation areas, Spain appears with 3.4 million / ha and in 1993 the FAO reports that Spain has 3.5 million / ha. During this period of time, the country maintained little variation in the irrigation areas, while many countries increased their irrigated areas considerably. The country must increase its hydraulic development with more reservoir capacity and for that it has to increase the plan for the construction of dams, micro dams, irrigation and drainage systems, transfers and short and long term reforestation. Spain currently has modernized irrigation by increasing the areas of localized irrigation, which results in greater water savings, but that is not enough to solve the water problem.
The lack of rain is prolonged and the drought is prolonged, the economic losses of billions are already manifested, so it is necessary an adequate management of surface and groundwater reserves and a rational management of irrigation water to cope to the current campaign and the next irrigation campaign.
Climate change is a reality and the average temperature of air and sea water are gradually increasing in Spain and the rest of the world, due to the effect of global warming, so we must take the necessary measures to deal with it. An Expert Committee should be created with professionals with long experience in water, irrigation and climate change to combat water crisis in Spain.