Drought emergency in BarcelonaThe city enters the emergency stage of the drought protocol on Friday, 2 February, meaning water consumption is limited to 200 litres per person per day. The city used an average of 172 mitres per inhabitant per day in 2023, meaning that at present there are no plans to cut the water supply into people’s homes, but there will be various steps to reduce the water consumption by individuals, companies and administrations. In Barcelona, the City Council has had its own drought risk protocol for some time, setting out a series of measures for municipal services and facilities to minimise the consequences of water shortages.
Watering urban greenery
The first stage of the emergency means that only subsistence watering is permitted, with groundwater or regenerated water, in other words not safe water. There are currently 25 green spaces where watering of this type is being applied, in addition to spaces with channels for groundwater. Around the rest of the city’s green spaces, this stage of the protocol will see the City Council prioritise watering for roadside trees and palm trees in iconic streets and large avenues, in streets or avenues with green spaces, and trees in historical and iconic parks such as the rose garden in the Parc de Cervantes or the Parc del Laberint d’Horta.
In addition, teams from Parks and Gardens are using the fleet of water trucks, which provide groundwater for cleaning services to fill smaller vehicles with tanks of 1,000 litres to water garden tubs and parterres.
Ornamental fountains and artificial ponds will only be refilled with groundwater if they provide shelter for fauna in danger of extinction and fauna intended to help with the recovery of native species in and around bodies of water.
Elsewhere, allotments cannot be watered with safe water from now on. This could affect a total of 349 school cultivation areas and 190 community and social allotments.
Cleaning roads and sewerage
The need to maintain and look after public space continues during the drought, but with measures applied to adapt to the situation. Because of this, roads will still be cleaned with water, but never with safe water. Every day, 28 water trucks distribute groundwater all around the city for cleaning vehicles to use.
In addition, and within the framework of the Pla Endreça, 14.4 million euros will be invested to expand the groundwater network. The goal is to further reduce the consumption of safe water by municipal services. A further investment of 12 million euros is planned to improve watering infrastructures.
Swimming pools and sports grounds
During this stage of the emergency, only swimming pools at sports facilities and open-air pools used for federated sports can be refilled. However, these same facilities must adopt other ways of saving the amount of water equivalent to the volume used to fill their pools.
The same applies with watering. Sports grounds used for federated sport can be watered provided this is with groundwater or regenerated water, with measures applied to save the equivalent volume of water used.
At municipal sports facilities, the number of showers available in changing rooms will be reduced by 25%. In addition, federated teams will only be able to use showers after matches, but not after training. A media campaign with the message “1 shower – 3 minutes” is also being launched to foster responsible use of showers at facilities. Finally, water consumption at these spaces will be monitored and air-showers and taps gradually installed in facilities which don’t have them, while taps in hand basins will be replaced by taps with timers.
Communication among the general public
Besides these measures, the City Council is also working to promote recommendations and advice on saving water among the public. In the current emergency stage one, there are no restrictions for individuals, but with little things like turning taps off while we wash out hands or teeth, or taking a shower instead of a bath, we can all help reduce water consumption. On municipal social media, the hashtag #BCNSequera offers constant communication on these recommendations.