Water water everywhere… just when the Expo water festival was preaching on saving dwindling resources
IT was the last thing organisers were expecting at the launch of Expo2008, an international festival devoted to water and sustainable living.
But just as the two-month spectacular in Zaragoza got underway heavy rains caused the Ebro river to overflow, flooding the spectators’ area at the opening ceremony and forcing emergency plans into action.
While irritating for organisers, it was a godsend for local farmers, who have been suffering the worst drought for 60 years.
With reservoir levels dipping into the danger zone the wettest May since 1971, followed by a damp June, came as a big relief.
The exhibition area, which features impressive works by architects from around the world, including Zaha Hadid, has fortunately not been damaged.
Running until September 14, the event is expected to draw 6.5 million visitors.
It will boast a series of concerts, including performances by Alanis Morissette, Iggy Pop, and the Spanish opera singer Montserrat Caballé.
The 25-hectare area has exhibits from about 100 countries and one of Europe’s largest freshwater aquariums with more than 500 species from five major rivers around the world.
The opening came as Spain ended a controversial water transfer from the Ebro, Spain’s biggest waterway, to Barcelona, which had started in April.
The transfer had sparked a ‘water war’ between different regions and Madrid’s Socialist government.
Authorities in Aragón threatened legal action against Madrid to halt the transfer.
After the recent heavy rains, the authorities in Catalonia have lifted emergency measures, including a hose-pipe ban, cutting supplies to beach showers and fines for filling swimming pools.