5 Jul, 2012 @ 09:11
1 min read

Spain in danger of ‘chronic drought’

SPAIN is at risk of ‘chronic drought’ due to the march of desertification.

Rain shortage has meant crucial underground aquifers have not been filled for years, which has caused soil to erode – leaving it incapable of absorbing moisture.

Instead, heavy rain washes straight into ravines then into the sea, meaning the ground remains dry and unable to provide moisture to vegetation.

And the figures say it all – reservoirs in Andalucia are currently only 70 per cent full, while this time last year they were 89 per cent full.

“Unless urgent measures are taken, we will end up in a situation of chronic drought,” said Patricio Garcia-Fayos of the Spanish research centre SCIC.

Eloise Horsfield

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  1. The problem is not a shortage of rain it’s because of illegal bore holes, non sustainable use and flagrant waste so it’s, as usual, a problem of greed and corruption.

  2. Ban’s correct. Another main issue has been that the EU has given funding to Spain to build many hundreds of aquifier projects, but lo and behold, Spain has not used the funds properly and has not completed the vast number of these projects. The funds have been chanelled elsewhere e.g. into a mattress or an offshore account, no doubt.

    Water management responsibilities in Spain are also divided between too many different levels of government – the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, basically. Up until 1986 there were not even any inventories of water usage and extraction!

    Expect water bills to double or triple in the next few years.

    Read it all here:

  3. The Spanish habit of tearing up the ground every few months in the olive groves in the name of “Weed control” plays a large part in this problem of run-off, and of erosion. Left alone the soil would gradually develop a structure with underground passages dug by the ‘tobillos’, ants, and cicadas. The rain can then penetrate, instead of running off what it many areas is no more than baked brick.

  4. Agree with previous comments, it’s not a shortage of water that is the problem it’s the management and distribution of it, strangely the UK suffers from the same problem with less reason.

  5. PM is correct, but it seems obvious to anyone bar those responsible for soil management.
    As an example, on the opposite side of the valley here, the olive orchards are divided between owners, with about 4 or 5 acres each. The one in the middle ‘neglected’ his patch for years and allowed all the grasses, weeds and small shrubs to survive, whereas the others ploughed and smoothed their patches, sometimes twice a year. From a distance the ‘neglected’ patch looked like a grass-covered orchard, but still manageable and productive.
    When the rains came 2009/10, great channels were washed into the ploughed areas and hundreds of tons ended up in the streams below. The unploughed patch lost virtually no soil.
    But the situation is complicated by the need to control potential fire risks by removing weeds.
    It seems to me a question of balancing the long-term and permanent destruction of viable agriculural land against a short-term loss due to a possible fire.
    I can’t think of an answer except total fire prevention.

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