When Mario Ferrario gets up to take his daughters to summer school, around six in the morning, there is still no water in Bonastre, a municipality of about 800 inhabitants in the Catalonia region. He turns on the faucet and not a drop comes out.
If you’re lucky, and you can get away from work, you come home at ten in the morning to take a quick shower before the water is turned off again. After that little respite from 7 to 10 in the morning, the flow remains cut off until 8 in the evening, when it reopens for another two hours.
“And that is if there is water again, because many times the schedules are not met. They establish some bands that later change without warning”, assures Ferrario.
Showering, doing laundry, and even doing the dishes have become a luxury on Bonastre. The situation in this Spanish town is so extreme that the City Council has decided to apply restrictions due to the drought.
It was a couple of weeks ago when the Agència Catalana de l’Aigua declared the area a drought, although in practice nothing has changed, since the local authorities continue to maintain the same restrictions.
There are currently 150 municipalities in the region of Catalonia in which it has been necessary to apply water restrictions. The reservoirs are emptied and also the wells from which many small towns are supplied. In fact, according to figures from the Ministry of Ecological Transition, this has been the August with less water in reservoirs during the last millennium.
In the case of Bonastre, the situation is “extreme”, as Esther Bartra, its mayor, has declared to local media. The only well that the municipality has has no reserves and is without water.
As a patch, the City Council is trying to divert water from a well under construction in the hope that this will alleviate the situation in the town a little.
Drought, lack of rain and poor forecast
Ferrario has two young daughters aged five and eleven. “At this age the children get dirty all the time and now we can’t wash their clothes,” he tells Euronews. Added to this is the heat wave, “with the heat my daughters are not having a good time, there are times when they need a shower to cool off,” she adds.
In the center of Bonastre, Xavi Llarch tries to collect water every time the flow is reopened in order to serve customers in his bar. “For us it is an inconvenience, we are constantly losing customers,” he says.
“Throughout the day we can’t wash the dishes used by customers, we can’t use the sink, we can’t even use the coffee maker to make a coffee,” he says.
It is the fourth summer in which the town has had to apply restrictions due to the drought, although, according to its neighbors, the consequences have never been as serious as the ones they are experiencing now.
“We have had some more summers with water cuts, but they only lasted a couple of days. What we are experiencing this year is terrible, it has never been so serious. This situation was a death foretold”, says Núria Pons, one of Bonastre’s neighbors.
“It is true that there is a widespread drought, but there has also been very poor forecasting by local authorities. We’ve known for months this was going to happen. It’s not entirely the fault of the City Council, but during the rainy season it should have been used to fill the tank and make forecasts,” says Pons.
The City Council has already prohibited filling swimming pools, irrigating orchards and gardens with drinking water and asked residents to reduce and consume responsibly, but this has not prevented more severe restrictions from being applied.
“People are already tired and quite angry with the situation. Politicians give as an excuse that they cannot dig a new well, that there is a drought, that it does not rain… But there has been no foresight on their part”, says Ferrario.
“I have been living in the town for four years and this has been going on for a while, but this year has been catastrophic. The restrictions are much more severe,” he adds.
While the deposits do not stop falling, there are those who ask that a reflection be made on how this situation has come about.
Antonella Gerosa, manager of a wine cellar in the area, points out that the water has been used in a disrespectful way. “Although the town is small, we have reached this stage. We knew that the aquifers were low, it is something that could be observed, but people have not had a sense of environmental responsibility”.
Until the construction of the second well, scheduled for the end of the year, is completed, the City Council has sought another solution. Every day a tanker truck arrives at the municipality to distribute water among the neighbors.
“The problem with this is that older people can’t carry the bottles from where they park the truck to their house,” says Pons, who looks up at the sky with little hope. “Until it rains in seas we will continue with restrictions.”