“When it doesn’t rain, we don’t have water.” Reportage from villages suffering from drought


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/From our special correspondents/

Although the town of Vallirana is only 25 kilometers from Barcelona, ​​the historic drought that the region has been experiencing for the past three years has affected it far more than the regional capital.

“When it doesn’t rain, we don’t have water,” Eva Martínez, the mayor of the city of 15,000, tells us. “The current situation is very frustrating for our residents. In two weeks, it can happen that he turns the faucet and no water flows from it,” he adds.

The people of Barcelona began to feel the drought more significantly in February, when the Catalan regional government officially declared a state of emergency and limited the daily consumption of water per person to 200 liters.

However, Vallirana and other towns in the Catalan countryside that depend on water from drying wells have been in crisis mode for months.

They bring water to them in trucks

Vallirana’s situation is somewhat specific. Unlike most cities around Barcelona, ​​it is not connected to a wider distribution network. As for its water supply, it depends exclusively on its own system of wells, which draw water from underground and aquifers.

However, a large part of them have completely dried up in recent years due to the lack of precipitation, while the level of the others has remained at a minimum level for a long time.

The region, which is seeking independence from the rest of Spain, has not experienced significant rain in about three years. In some parts of Catalonia, less than half of the average rainfall fell between January and early March. Water stocks in dams in the area had dropped to 14% in early March.

“For Catalonia, the drought is a big problem, but for Valliran, it’s even bigger,” says Mayor Martínez. He reminds that other municipalities in the region are also experiencing a similar situation to the one in their city. Vallirana is the largest of them.

Photo: Michal Turek, Seznam Zpravy

The mayoress of Vallirany at one of the wells with the help of which the city obtains underground water.

Residents there have been getting used to living with dwindling water supplies for several years. “You can’t wash the dishes and wash your clothes, you can’t even go to the toilet because there’s no water. It’s quite difficult to live like this in 2024,” one of the locals complained to the RFI station some time ago.

Catalan authorities have promised to relieve Vallirana and have her connected to the divorce system. It will take at least a year and a half before the city can start pumping water from it. Until then, the city management has to figure things out on its own.

In addition to working on the construction of new wells, he has been having water imported from a nearby friendly town for several months. Two tanker trucks go there every day for water. They complete the route of several kilometers approximately ten times a day.

But as the mayor says, this is only a temporary solution. Importing water from a neighboring village is very expensive. “All the money our city has is going to fight the drought. At the same time, they could be used much better,” he complains.

Photo: Michal Turek, Seznam Zpravy

Trucks that bring water to Vallirana every day from a nearby village.

He points out that the situation in the city is already very critical and it might get even worse in the summer. “A lot of people from Barcelona have summer residences in Vallirana. When they come here, water supplies will disappear even faster,” he fears.

The town hall is already encouraging residents to conserve water as much as possible so that the city does not reach its limits. She launched her own awareness campaign on social networks and shares short educational videos here.

The holiday resort of Lloret de Mar on the Costa Brava coast or the regional capital Barcelona are also worried about the onslaught of tourists, which is expected to start already at Easter. Local residents complain that tourists do not pay attention to saving water and that the hotels that accommodate them use many times more water than households (we wrote here).

They have water from wells instead of taps

Gualba, a picturesque village near Barcelona, ​​is in a similar situation as Vallirana due to a three-year drought. Its approximately 1,500 inhabitants have been without drinking water since December.


Photo: Michal Turek, Seznam Zpravy

The village of Gualba is surrounded by mountains. They used to be full of greenery and natural springs, but now they are dry, the local mayor tells us.

Gualba is famous for being full of natural springs that flow down into the village from the Montseny mountain that towers over it. After all, the name of the village corresponds to this: According to local legends, it means “white water”.

But in recent years, almost all natural springs have dried up. “Look at those mountains. They used to be green and there was a sense of moisture in the forests there, now they are completely gray,” Mayor Olga Hernáiz Olías tells us, pointing to the hills that form the backdrop of the village.

Due to the ongoing drought, the level in the reservoir that supplies the village with water has dropped dramatically. The previously drinkable water has become inedible as a result and the locals are currently using it at most for washing or washing dishes.

“We always had enough water that we would end up like this, no one thought of it,” the mayor of Gualby confides to us, admitting that the current situation is really critical.


Photo: Michal Turek, Seznam Zpravy

Eighty-year-old Josephine goes to the well for water about every three days.

Local residents often have no choice and go to a nearby town to buy bottled water. Others go to one of the last springs left in the village with large plastic bottles and collect water from the well there.

The mayor of the village tells us that the analysis of the water from the local well is not the best, but the locals praise it.

In the late afternoon at the well, which is located on the edge of the forest, just a few minutes’ walk from the city center, we meet several groups of local residents.

Eighty-year-old Josephine heads to the well first. In one hand he holds a stick, in the other a bag full of empty glass bottles. She is supported under the arm by her neighbor who is two generations younger, who came with a load of help.


Photo: Michal Turek, Seznam Zpravy

Nelson and his family regularly visit the well, which is located on the edge of the local forest.

“Before, the mountains were full of natural springs, but most of them have dried up. This is one of the last ones,” recalls Josephine, filling glass bottles with a funnel. It is said that he goes to the well every three days for water.

It is similar to Nelson, who went to the well in the early evening accompanied by his wife and little daughter. “We come here often,” he tells us as he kneels by a well with a large plastic barrel.

The article is in Czech

Tags: doesnt rain dont water Reportage villages suffering drought


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