29 Apr, 2023 @ 16:30
1 min read

Record temperatures, ongoing drought and Doñana’s wetlands: Why water is the word on everyone’s lips this week

Reservoirs continue drying up despite heavy weekend storms bringing torrential rain across Spain
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WITH 27% of Spain currently either in a drought ‘emergency’ or ‘alert’, record temperatures being registered for the month of April, and an ongoing row between Andalucia and Madrid over the Doñana wetlands, there is one topic on politicians’ and Spaniards lips as we enter May: water. 

Spain’s Agriculture Minister Luis Planas wrote to the European Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski, to request emergency funds to support Spain’s 890,000 struggling farm workers.

“The situation caused by this drought is on such a scale that we cannot deal with its consequences just with national funds,” said Planas.

The farming sector is being hit hard by the lack of rain and the high temperatures, and the problem is particularly acute in Andalucia. 

The Guadalquivir river basin is at 25% capacity, and water allowances for irrigation have been cut by up to 90% for some farmers in Andalucia. 

For now, the hot weather shows no sign of letting up. Over the last fortnight 18 temperature records were broken, including a high of 35.1ºC at Cordoba Airport, while average temperatures were forecast as being 10ºC to 15º above usual levels for this time of year.

Experts at Spain’s Aemet state meteorological service believe April will end up being the hottest since current records began in 1961. 

Meanwhile, last week also saw the row over the Doñana National Park deepen. 

Firstly, the European Commission once again warned the Junta its plans to grant new watering rights to farmers in the area around the protected wetlands could cause even more environmental damage. 

Earlier this month the PP and far-right Vox voted through legislation that could pave the way for some 800 hectares of irrigable farmland located near Doñana to be legalized. 

But scientists have warned that this will put even more pressure on the park, depleting the levels of its aquifer and threatening flora and fauna. 

In the run up to regional and local elections on May 28, the issue has become a point of conflict between the PP and the governing Socialist Party. 

“They are still messing around with something that could cost Spaniards a lot of money in exchange for nothing,” said Environmental Transition Minister Teresa Ribera, in reference to the fines being threatened by the EC over the plans for Doñana.

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Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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