Spain on alert for worst drought in more than two decades

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Warren Gorowitz/Twitter‏

ALL signs point towards imminent drought in Spain. The reservoirs currently stand at critically low levels, while the rain looks set to stay away for the indefinite future.

According to the latest available figures, the reservoirs are at just 37 per cent of their total capacity, ten per cent less than at the same time last year. These levels don’t look set to improve any time soon as Aemet, the State Meteorological Agency, does not predict a high amount of rainfall in the coming weeks.

It’s safe to say the country has received significantly less rainfall than it has in recent years. Many towns in the region of Galicia have seen less than half their annual average rainfall of 1,500 litres per square meter, with areas such as Vigo and A Coruña receiving just 558 and 494 litres respectively.

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For a drought to be declared, an average of 600 litres of rain per square meter has to be recorded, and the average currently stands at 645 litres. The last time water levels were recorded at such low levels was in 1995.

As of November 13, water levels in reservoirs along the Tagus River stood at just 40 per cent capacity but are likely to have dropped due to the shortage of rainfall in the past few weeks.

Meanwhile reservoirs along the Segura River, which many farmers rely upon to irrigate crops, have fallen to less than 14 per cent capacity.

According to Agroseguro, a farming insurance agency, about 1.4 million hectares of crops have been impacted by either frost or the lack of rainfall this year.

 Miguel Blanco, Secretary General of the Farmers’ Union COAG, said a 40 per cent loss has been recorded in vineyards alone, and claimed the situation was critical as 15 per cent of the irrigated farmland produces 50 per cent of the nation’s food.

Electricity prices are also on the rise due to the water shortage as Iberdrola, Spain’s largest power company, reported a 58 per cent dive in its hydroelectric power production between January and September. Companies are replacing this energy source with coal or gas to meet demand, which, in turn, is pushing up prices.

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