Special stage of the drought alert protocol activated in Barcelona

With water resources currently running very low, the Catalan Water Agency has issued a warning over the Ter-Llobregat water basin which supplies the city of Barcelona, meaning the special stage of the drought alert protocol for the city is now in place. The protocol sets out specific steps to save safe water in services and activities such as green spaces, ornamental fountains, urban cleaning, sports installations, swimming pools and cleaning vehicles. The goal is to achieve a 15% reduction in regular water consumption for household, commercial, industrial and recreational use, and 50% in recreational use involving watering.

01/03/2023 16:35 h

Ajuntament de Barcelona

The application of the special stage of the drought protocol for the city means new restrictions on the use of safe water:

Gardens and green spaces

  • Watering banned with safe water in public and private gardens and green zones.
  • Essential watering only for trees and plants: using drip systems or watering cans, between 8 pm and 8 am.
  • Planting activity guaranteed for trees and bushes in streets in road works, as these include drip systems or the use of groundwater.

These measures allow for a direct saving of 47.8% of the safe water used to water the city, a total of 1.43 cubic hectometres a year. Efforts will be made so that groundwater is used for all other watering.


  • Water jets completely out of use at ornamental fountains.
  • As a unique exception, artificial ponds will be allowed to make a minimal use of safe water which is essential for maintaining aquatic life.

Urban cleaning

  • Cleaning of streets, sewerage, paving, façades and similar will be carried out by municipal services using minimal levels of water for essential purposes and avoiding the use of safe water wherever possible. These measures are already being applied in the city, with the requisites brought forward by the Catalan Water Agency: 80% of street cleaning services already use groundwater and this will be increased to 100%, meaning no major disruptions to services are envisaged.
  • Individual hosepipe ban for cleaning streets, pavements, façades, terraces and similar.

Cleaning vehicles

  • Vehicles may only be cleaned at commercial premises with existing water circulation systems.
  • Away from these establishments, washing may only be carried out with a bucket and a sponge to clean windows, mirrors, lights and number plates. The use of hosepipes is prohibited.

Sports facilities and swimming pools

  • Watering only allowed for turfed playing surfaces and other types of sports surfaces used for federated sports, up to a maximum of 450 m3 per hectare per month. Surfaces which make use of alternative water resources can also be watered and must have the corresponding permits.
  • It is prohibited to fill swimming pools, with two exceptions.

Besides the restrictions, which are detailed on the website barcelona.cat/sequera, people should be aware of the need to reduce water consumption and to avoid wasting it in daily life. This page includes tips on saving water and cutting its consumption in households by up to 30%.

Municipal services have already achieved a reduction of 11% in water consumption since the last drought episode (from May 2007 to December 2008), thanks to stronger policies to optimise water savings. This has helped replace the consumption of safe water (down by 18%) with groundwater (up by 51%). With an average water consumption of 103 litres per person per day, well below the Spanish average of 134 litres, the city has gained resilience and is prepared to cope with the drought, with no significant disruptions expected for households.


Further information

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