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La Baells reservoir

1st February, 2024 Geography

La Baells reservoir

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Spain expected to declare drought emergency, with big fines for breaking water rules.


La Baells reservoir

  • This reservoir was inaugurated in 1976 and its objective was to collect the waters of the Llobregat river to supply Barcelona and its metropolitan area.
  • The banks of the swamp are considered of interest for their flora and fauna. Carp, pike, trout can be caught in its waters ..
  • It has become an important work of hydraulic engineering, with its extension of more than 300 hectares and its capacity for more than 100 cubic hectometers.

Recent Issue

  • Barcelona and its surrounding in northeastern Spain's Catalonia region are preparing for tighter water restrictions amid a historic drought that has shrunk reservoirs to record lows.
  • Catalan authorities are expected to declare a drought emergency for an area that is home to 6 million people after water reserves fell below 16% of their capacity, the benchmark set for the application of a new round of water-saving measures.
  • The emergency would lower the daily amount of water permitted for residential and municipal purposes from 210 to 200 liters per person (55 gallons to 53 gallons). Catalonia's water agency says the average resident uses 116 liters (30 gallons) per day at home.
  • The regional emergency declaration would reduce water for crop irrigation by 80%, for herd animals by 50% and by 25% for industry.
  • Catalonia has faced rolling water restrictions for several months that keep getting tighter as its reserves drops. Prohibitions on watering lawns, filling private swimming pools and washing cars will remain in place. Municipal governments can't use drinking water to clean streets.

Drought in Europe

  • Droughts are part of the natural climate system and are not uncommon in Europe. The extraordinary dry spell has been the result of a prolonged and significant deviation from normal weather patterns.
  • It is the record-breaking heat waves that have resulted in temperatures in many countries rising to historic highs. Unusually high temperatures have led to increased evaporation of surface water and soil moisture.
  • The severity of the current drought can also be attributed, to an extent, to the fact that it occurred so soon after the 2022 drought.
  • Earlier European droughts such as those in 2003, 2010, 2018 and 2022 too were compared to the 1540 event.
  • Many areas in Europe were yet to recover from the last drought, soil moisture had also not been restored to normal.

Unexpected  impacts of drought in Europe

  • France is experiencing its worst drought on record, which has affected its maize production - with only half of the crop in a ‘good or excellent condition’.
  • In Germany, the lack of rainfall has meant its major shipping artery, the Rhine, has dropped to such a low level, less freight can be transported, leading to delays and higher costs.
  • The Rhine flows through Germany’s industrial heartland, from the Swiss Alps to the North Sea carrying everything from grains, to chemicals and coal. But boats have been loaded to only 30-40% capacity to avoid running aground.
  • The disruption could impact the country’s economic growth by as much as half a percentage point, according to economists.
  • In the midst of an energy crisis, drought is also putting pressure on the power supply.
  • Hydropower generation, which relies on water to produce electricity, has fallen by 44% in Spain and 20% overall.
  • Water is also needed to cool nuclear power plants - and some nuclear plants in France have had to reduce output as the rivers have been too low and warm to cool the plants, according to the Guardian.
  • As rivers and lakes dry up, the dropping water levels are exposing previously submerged artefacts, including an unexploded World War Two bomb on the bed of the River Po in Italy, near Mantua.
  • Some 3,000 local residents were evacuated - and traffic on the river and nearby roads and railway was stopped - so the bomb could be removed and then destroyed in a controlled explosion.
  • Food has become sharply more expensive in many countries, and drinking water is being rationed in some regions. Agriculture has also been affected badly.


The European drought crisis underscores the pressing need for comprehensive and sustainable water management strategies. As climate change exacerbates the frequency and severity of droughts, it is imperative for European nations to collaborate on adaptive measures, invest in water infrastructure, and promote responsible consumption. Balancing the needs of agriculture, industry, and communities with the preservation of ecosystems is crucial to building resilience against future droughts. Urgent action, informed by scientific research and international cooperation, is essential to mitigate the impacts of the drought crisis and ensure a water-secure future for Europe.


In what way micro-watershed development projects help in water conservation in drought-prone and semi-arid regions of India? 150 words