Spain’s drought: the implications and solutions
Current figures indicate the scale of the problem: (i) we are experiencing the worst drought in years, and (ii) reservoirs in Spain are at 41.2 % capacity. This scenario is made even worse as river basins are decreasing and the amount of irrigated land is expanding. Today, the need for a cutting-edge water infrastructure is essential, which would be able to provide new solutions, both for the demand as well as the problem of water scarcity by taking advantage of the salt water on our planet. Today, on the Energy of Change, we shall look into the implications and the solutions.
Spain, 2018. We are suffering the most severe drought in years. We constantly hear things like, ‘the climate has changed’ or, ‘things aren’t like the way they used to be.’ The fact is that crops are delayed, reservoirs are becoming empty -and they are not returning to their former levels- fires are devastating natural parks, and the skies above cities have a yellowish tone due to the emission of nitrogen dioxide. And it is against this background that we find the seasons of drought getting longer and longer and the rainy seasons shorter, that we stop to reflect on what exactly is happening, what the implications of this drought are, beyond what we already know, and what solutions are available.
We can start by asking, just how much water does our planet actually have? Such a question was answered in depth in the article on the Energy of Change entitled “How is water distributed around the world?” Here, we stated that, the total amount of water found all over the planet comes to some 1,386,000,000 million cubic meters of, of which 97 % is salt water, and only 3 % is freshwater. In addition, more than half of this amount of freshwater is in the form of ice in polar caps and glaciers, which are currently diminishing as a result of climate change. Faced with this panorama, the need for a cutting-edge water infrastructure is essential, one which would manage to offer new solutions both for the demand as well as the problem of water scarcity by taking advantage of the planet’s salt water.
“The implications of Spain’s drought are worrying: the country’s reservoirs are at 41.2 % capacity which is the lowest recorded level since 2006.
When we consider the hydrological (or water) year (October 2016 – October 2017), in Spain, a total of 530 l/m2 was collected, and when this compared to the average rainfall since 1990 (648 l/m2), we find levels to be below average. Spain’s reservoirs are currently at41.2 % capacity, which has only been passed (in terms of a downward trend) in 2016, when we found levels recorded at 39.5 %, and 1995, when we suffered the worst drought in recent yearsand our hydrological capacity failed to pass the 27 % capacity mark.
According to an article in the La Vanguardia newspaper which was based on a study by Ecologists in Action, this data is compounded by two factors. On the one hand, the real contribution which is made by river basins has seen the only usable part reduced to around 30 %, the rest evaporates; and on the other hand, the amount of irrigated land is expanding, thereby leading to an increase in demand.
“Abengoa has a long experience in developing hydraulic infrastructures with a total installed capacity of 1.5 million m3/day.
All of this points to the questions; how is the earth’s population to be supplied? How is industry providing an answer to the current water needs? And what about the crops? Abengoa, the international company that applies innovative technology solutions for sustainability in the infrastructures, energy and water sectors,is a key player in the desalination sector globally, with a total installed capacity of 1.5 million m3/day.
Together with extensive experience and know-how which has been acquired over the years by developing technologies in the water sector, Abengoa has built plants that regenerate and reuse more than 100.000 m3 per day of wastewater, which is then used for agricultural irrigation and urban and industrial uses. In order to save the seasonality of river basins and to ensure a regular supply of this resource, Abengoa has a long experience in developing hydraulic infrastructures, and thus brings water to the areas that are hardest hit by water scarcity.