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Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Notes from Spain – raindancer required!

Here on the Costa Blanca we’re aware that there appears to be a water shortage. We’ve not seen or heard any official pronouncements about a ‘hosepipe ban’, however. 

Normally, we’re very impressed with how the water system is managed, considering the long hot months, the vast numbers of occupants of holiday hotels and homes, and the widespread agriculture in the area.

On very rare occasions, we find the water pressure has been reduced; at these times some householders higher up the hill tend to get no water. These restrictions are limited to a few hours at most.

Swimming pools can still be filled, and gardens are still watered – even the community gardens.

I don’t water the garden often, as the plants are well established with deep roots – oleander, bougainvillaea and roses mostly. The dish-washing bowl is emptied on plants in rotation, as is the receptacle from the air-conditioning outlet.

This year seems to be especially serious, the Alicante province having recorded the worst drought in 25 years, the lack of rainfall virtually half that of previous years. This inadequate rainfall has been noticeable since 2013. Forecasters don’t see any change for some time. The level of the La pedrera reservoir not far away has dropped, though it isn’t as bad as some places in Spain.

La pedrera reservoir

The effects are felt more inland, which affects agricultural communities, which rely solely on aquifers, whose reserves are constantly dwindling. The coast near us has alternative supplies, water transfers from the north or desalination plants. We’re also near the River Segura, which is diverted to countless irrigation canals. (A few years back, a hapless driver ended up in one of these canals; it cost him his life). Mountains are not far off, the plains sloping to the sea being highly fertile, with crops seeming to be constantly planted and harvested by hard-working farmers.

However, when it rains here, boy, does it rain! Torrential; the streets tend to flood very quickly. This is the main reason why the pavements have unusually high kerbstones, to channel the rain-water.

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