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Spain : Catalonia Tourism Hit by Water Restrictions Amid Deepening Drought Crisis

Photo : AP

Spain's Catalonia, grappling with a deepening drought crisis, is contemplating imposing water restrictions on tourists in the driest regions if domestic consumption isn't curbed, announced the Catalan government on Tuesday.

Under the proposed measures, tourists staying in hotels could face a strict daily limit of 100 liters (26 gallons) per person if municipalities fail to meet specified domestic water usage targets for three consecutive months during the ongoing "drought emergency."

Barcelona, the regional capital and Spain’s second-largest city, currently consumes 160 liters of water per resident per day, well below the established limit of 200 liters. This figure encompasses both drinking and washing needs.

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Despite tourism contributing nearly 12% to Spain’s economy, there's mounting pressure from water conservationists to rein in water usage by tourists amid the drought.

According to Barcelona’s hotel guild, the average daily water consumption per tourist in 2022 was approximately 163 liters, rising to over 240 liters for luxury accommodations. However, water used for filling swimming pools would not be included in the tourist water usage limits.

In a related development, the Catalan government eased restrictions on refilling swimming pools with fresh water. Now, privately-owned pools can be replenished during severe droughts if designated as "climate refuges" accessible to residents seeking relief from the heat.

Additionally, modifications were made to allow for private use of desalination facilities, a demand voiced by hotel owners.

Although Catalonia has witnessed some relief with a wetter spring, the region remains in the grip of a drought exacerbated by climate change. Reservoir levels, which were previously at a precarious 15% capacity, have increased marginally to 18%.

Despite this slight improvement, Catalonia maintains its drought-related restrictions declared in February, including significant reductions in water usage for crop irrigation (by 80%), herd animals (by 50%), and industry (by 25%).

April 19, 2024 2:29 p.m. 4535

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