Sunday, July 03, 2005

Drought in Spain and Portugal

Elizabeth Nash, in The Independent on Sunday 3rd July 2005, wrote about drought and desert in Spain and Portugal.

1. The growth of golf courses, swimming pools and luxury homes for Brits is contributing to the water shortage problem in Spain and Portugal.

2. Scientists fear up to a third of Spain may become desert in 50 years.

3. Spain and Portugal are experiencing the worst drought for more than half a century. The region's reservoirs are down to 20 per cent of capacity in many cases.

4. Global warming seems to be increasing.

(Murcia is technically desert. Rain comes twice or three times a year.)

Julia Martinez, a specialist in water resources at Murcia University:

"In a situation of chronic scarcity like that of Murcia, where water is more important than petroleum, the proliferation of golf courses is unsustainable....

"Ancient springs are drying up, and water is becoming contaminated with salts and nitrates. Wells plunge 600 metres, the water table is falling and aquifers are saying basta - enough."

In Portugal, serious drought afflicts some 70 per cent of the country.

"The reality is that we are consuming twice as much water as our rivers and aquifers can provide," says Julia Martinez.

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