Hundreds evacuated as Spain battles wildfires in northwest

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A lack of rain, prolonged periods of record-breaking heat and dwindling water reserves have forced several Spanish regions to limit water usage.

According to recent research published in July by the journal Nature Geoscience, Spain is suffering its driest climate for at least 1,200 years caused by an atmospheric high-pressure system driven by climate change.

This has been especially pronounced in the regions of Galicia, Catalonia and Andalusia, where reservoir reserves are at or below 40 percent of their capacity.

Jaén, in Andalusia, for example, was a region that used to get around 800 litres (210 gallons) of rainfall per square metre, but is set to get around half that amount this year.

During Spain’s two heatwaves this summer, temperatures surpassing 40C spread across the country, affecting even the northernmost areas such as Galicia and Asturias, with the mercury touching 45C in the south, and killing over a thousand people.

READ MORE: How drought is threatening Spain’s ‘green gold’ harvest

As a result, many autonomous communities across the country have introduced water restrictions.

Cutting off showers on beaches, banning the watering of gardens and washing cars are just some of the measures in place.

But where exactly are the restrictions in place, and what are they?


The Generalitat of Catalonia has limited personal water consumption in 150 municipalities to 200 litres per person per day, with reservoirs in the region at 43 percent of their capacity, according to figures from the end of July.

President of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, has asked people to “use water rationally” and do whatever they can “to avoid aggravating the effects of the drought”. 


In Galicia, one of the regions of Spain most affected by drought and wildfires, the Pontevedra municipalities of Poio, Sanxenxo, Marín, Bueu and Pontecaldelas are preparing for night outages of water supply.

Local mayors have also banned showers on the beaches, the filling of swimming pools, and are trying to identify leaks in the supply network.

The municipalities of Baltar and Boborás have also banned the use of water to irrigate gardens, orchards and farms, fill swimming pools, and wash cars. Those who ignore the advice could be fined.


In Málaga, the La Viñuela reservoir is at just 12.7 percent of its capacity, and beach showers in Rincón de la Victoria and Vélez-Málaga have been cut off since last August 1.

In Huelva, ten municipalities in the region of Sierra de Aracena and Picos de Aroche are under night supply restrictions.


Over the border in Extremadura, the Badajoz region of Tentudía is most affected. Its reservoir currently only has 0.8 cubic hectometers left in reserves, 16.6 percent of its capacity and half of what it had this time last year.

Across the region, residents are advised no to use water in gardens or for street cleaning, nor to fill swimming pools or wash cars.

Castile and León

Castile and León has introduced irrigation restrictions for agriculture, and banned water games in the historic fountains in the gardens of Royal Palace of San Ildefonso, in the Segovian municipality of La Granja.

In Palencia, municipalities have also banned the filling of private pools, washing cars and garden irrigation.

Canary Islands

At the moment, there are no restrictions in the Canary Islands, although that could change as the archipelago has suffered drought-like conditions for several years.


In Castilla-La Mancha, the Vega del Jabalón reservoir, which supplies drinking water to twelve municipalities, is almost dry for the fourth consecutive year.