How will the drought emergency affect agriculture, livestock, industry and tourism?

On Thursday, a state of emergency was approved due to severe drought 202 municipalities are supplied with water from the Ter and Lobregat rivers. It affects approximately 6 million people from the Barcelona metropolitan area to central Catalonia, Valles and Maresme as well as the Girona provinces.

Such restrictions have never been imposed before in such a large area, not even with the drought of 2008. Reducing water consumption in rural areas, industry or tourismas well as the inability to expand a business without obtaining a license from the Catalan Water Agency (ACA), fully affects these economic sectors.

Effects on the field: 50-80% water reduction

As the new restrictions take effect, farmers and ranchers will have to reduce between 50% and 80% of the water they use to irrigate and care for livestock. Regarding livestock activities, licenses will not be grantedEntry of animals into new livestock farms Or for Expansion of these farms When the safety of animals is compromised, due to decreased water consumption by livestock.

We have an example in Granja soler de navasIn Bagis, where they have 2,500 piglets and cows to graze when they can. Now, with the drought, they are having a tough time. They have long been implementing technologies to reduce water consumption such as pacifiers for pigs, which only let out a little water when a pig sucks.

As he explains Educator Jenis SolerAt the moment there are no supply problems, but with the emergency phase, the water level in the livestock farm drops from 30% to 50%.

“This is not possible. Can we get 10%? Maybe 30%? But 50%… This is only possible by reducing livestock. If we reduce it, the numbers will not appear.”

The coordinator of the Bajis Farmers' Union, Josep Guitare, also complains, who remembers this Many herders depend on springs, rivers and ponds To be able to give drinking water to livestock while grazing:

“Now all this is starting to dry up. In the Javarisa River, for example, not a drop of water has flowed for 5 months. Does the government have an alternative plan to ensure water for all these livestock?

A tractor carrying fodder and a herd of cows grazing in Ripolis (ACN/Lourdes Casademont)

Councils are responsible for providing water, in some cases They find it difficult to control restrictions.

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Josep Maria Casafonte, mayor of Naves, a town in Solsones where the main activity is livestock farming, says: They are obligated to give water to as many heads of livestock as each farmBut he also warns that drought measures could lead to a decline in animal populations:

We cannot tell a pig to drink less. I can't close the tap. If there are 1,000 pigs or 1,000 calves, I must ensure water for 1,000 pigs or 1,000 calves. Therefore, to reduce water consumption, it can only be done by reducing livestock heads. If so, there must be compensation.”

In this sense, Jordi Armengol, head of the livestock sector at the Farmers Union, sees it Agriculture is one of the most penalized sectors When water consumption on livestock farms in the inland basins reaches 2% of the total, according to data from the Catalan Water Agency.

It seems unfair to us In the first phase of the emergency phase, agriculture must be reduced by 80%; Livestock 50%, and other uses such as industry 25%. Why is one sector discriminated against more than another? Most family farms are mixed, and we live on several legs: fields, herds of cattle… If we cut off all the legs because of drought, we will be left with nothing on the table and sitting on the ground.”

One of the pictures showing the severity of the drought can be seen in the Maresme region, A La Tordera, a river without a drop of water. Although it is a dry river for a large part of the year, it is not reported that it is also so in winter and from Palafolz upwards. Fortunately, there is still water left in the aquifer, groundwater, and farmers in the area are pumping it out.

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Another area where many agricultural properties are also preserved (Cinque Sines in Mataro).. Fortunately, here they also continue to preserve crops for the time being. In areas closer to the sea, the aquifers are fuller, meaning there is still water in the wells.

Of course, if it did not rain, the seawater pressure would be greater than that coming from land There is a risk of it becoming overly salted.

Those who have already had to start making changes are Farmers who have farms up the mountain. Some have reduced their crops because the wells are practically dry, and others have already begun to change the type of produce they grow.

Impacts on industry: 25% reduction in water consumption

Entering the emergency phase due to drought will force industries to reduce their water consumption by 25%. This could lead to Problems with production volume And even from Reducing the number of employees in some cases.

An example of an industry that may be affected by restrictions can be found in Terrassa, at Ramon Caus SA. It is a factory where textile yarn is dyed. They face the emergency phase with anxiety.

The volume of work since the end of the year was low, which allowed them to save more than 15% required by the exceptional period. They say difficulties will come when customer demands increase. Hence a mandatory saving of 25% can be a production and then a labor headache for a team of 15 workers.

Ramon Cos, the company's director, is very clear:

“If we have to, we'll have to find ways to do it Reducing production costs. “There may be some cases of ERTE, which, in our case, could affect two or three people.”

From entities such as the Catalan Water Group, an association that brings together companies and knowledge centres, Incentive administrations are demanded So that industries can consume renewable water from treatment plants.

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“If they can make this renewable water more economical for industry, entrepreneurs will be able to make more investments in the medium and long term,” says Xavier Amores, director of the group.

Renewable water such as that will be produced in the stage Pilot test at Mataro processing plant This can be partly allocated for industrial uses.

Impacts on tourism: They are concerned about losing customers

Finally, another sector that will be affected by the drought emergency in the Ter-Llobregat system is tourism. In the face of the measures announced by the government Prevent filling or refilling swimming pools in campgrounds and hotelsThe sector is already working to do this sea ​​water And continue to provide good service.

The state government will provide assistance to the sector to reduce water consumption. In Alt Empordà, for example, some establishments in tourist towns like Roses, which have been in a state of emergency since September, have been investing in water-saving measures for some time.

And this is it The sector feels in the spotlight He realizes that he cannot remain on the sidelines of the restrictions that will affect a large part of the Catalan population from Thursday.

With seven thousand hotel places, nearly two thousand three hundred camping sites and more than five thousand tourist apartments, the Roses City Council is also looking for alternatives because The restrictions do not slow down the municipality's economic engineIt calls on neighboring towns to build a joint desalination plant.

Suggestions that environmental organizations such as Aigua és Vida consider the corrections as unsustainable.

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