June, 21 2023 Ι The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought on 17 June, proclaimed by the United Nations in 1995, aims to draw attention to the threat to fertile land. The consequences of climate change make this concern particularly topical. After the Arctic, the Mediterranean region is the most vulnerable to climate change. The government of Catalonia takes action under the motto: Measures in the present and challenges for the future.
Innovations in Catalonia
The Special Action Plan in situations of alert and eventual drought (PES) is the planning instrument that foresees the rules for operating the systems and the measures that must be applied in relation to the use of the hydraulic public domain and must be activated once the Catalan Water Agency, given the established indicators, formally declares the situation of alert and eventual drought. It aims to provide agile and efficient continuity from ordinary or normal hydrological management towards the management of drought situations and the most critical episodes of lack of availability of water resources.
The PES collects the experience of past droughts and is drawn up in compliance with the mandate established in article 27 of Law 10/2001, of July 5, on the National Hydrologic Plan.
The PES contains the system of indicators and entry and exit thresholds for the different drought scenarios, the rules for operating the systems and the measures to be applied in relation to the use of the hydraulic public domain in each scenario. This is complemented by the establishment of provisions of an organizational nature and the regulation of the validity of the Plan and the cases of review and introduction of specific modifications.
The government is taking action against this in two ways
In the context of climate emergency, Catalonia is increasingly facing erratic rainfall and extreme weather conditions. In fact, according to projections by the Catalan Water Agency (ACA), the available water table in the country is expected to decrease by up to 18% by 2050. Moreover, due to climate change, simultaneous droughts and heat waves will be among the most common weather phenomena in the Mediterranean.
The Catalan government is taking action against this in two ways:
- Addressing the emergency caused by the water shortage for the past two years through planning, communicating with those affected and investing in relief packages in the present.
- Preparing the country for a future of increasingly severe droughts, with a focus on mitigation and adaptation to climate change.
Pla Especial de Sequera for Catalonia
This is why the “Pla Especial de Sequera” (Special Drought Plan) was approved in January 2020. It gives the Catalan Water Agency (ACA) the tool to address water scarcity in the area of inland sources (rivers that originate in Catalonia and flow into the Mediterranean Sea) at an early stage and at a local level. The primary objective of the Special Drought Plan is to ensure the supply of water to the population, to control the status of water resources and to minimise the economic impact on companies that use water as a factor of production. Preventive monitoring of the development of reserves makes it possible to activate measures long before reserves fall to worrying levels.
The details of the drought plan can be viewed in the PDF file.