It’s not looking very good in Catalonia with the water issue at the moment.
The BBC says ‘A state of emergency is declared as the region faces worst ever drought’. The fact is that the reservoirs are all but empty and there’s what the British would call a hosepipe-ban come into effect in 102 municipalities affecting six million residents including the people of the city of Barcelona.
While the Generalitat has concentrated on draconian reductions for agriculture, ranchers and industry (-80, -50 and -25%), the subject of tourism has been left in the hands of the town halls. A headline on Sunday says that some of these local authorities are already insisting on sea-water filled swimming-pools and no plugs to be provided in hotel baths.
We learn that tourists apparently like to use more water than residents.
Not enough rain (or snow-melt) is the culprit. But the effect is a drought – in the tail-end of winter.
One plan is to bring water up from Sagunto (Valencia) to the Catalonian capital by sea.
It’s been a warm and dry few months in Spain, with other areas equally worried about water shortage – particularly Andalucía.
All right, they aren’t cutting the water to the golf-courses on the Costa del Sol, but the larger plan there ‘will focus on using disused wells and boreholes, more desalination projects to make seawater usable and pushing local councils into fixing existing leaks in their water supply networks’.
In both regions – the fear is more that the tourist-industry will suffer than any apparent concern for the residents – as the availability of agricultural water is reduced and water-cuts are programmed for Seville, Córdoba and Málaga.
Andalucía is also looking at cistern-ships, maybe hauling water ‘from Portugal or even Asia’. Didn’t some place in Málaga bring a petite ice-burg down from Greenland last year?
A useful list of household water-economies includes showering rather than taking a bath – but the most effective break on domestic water-use would no doubt be the local water company putting up its prices.
Judging by the last few years of steadily increasing temperatures, the tourist bonanza may begin to falter, particularly in the south – although, here’s Sur in English: ‘Reassurance for Málaga and Costa del Sol tourism sectors following Andalucía's fresh drought decree. The regional government is to spend a further 217 million euros on measures to shore up water supply as the much-needed rain still fails to arrive’.
One answer is to build new desalination plants, but they are expensive and, as Greenpeace says, "This technology is essential to alleviate a period of extreme drought, like the one we are suffering now, but they are the last option". In Spain, there are currently an astonishing 770 of them – mostly used for domestic consumption.
Thus, we prepare for the summer season – with another 85 million international tourists joining us for a drink, a swim and a shower.
(It appears that we are in the midst of a rainy few days with the arrival of Storm Karlotta).
‘Living in Antequera: four reasons why you should choose to live there, what it is like and the cost of living. This Málaga town is perfect for those looking for city comforts away from hustle and bustle’. Idealista (in English) has the scoop (and some places for sale).
‘A message of tranquility from the Junta de Andalucía and hoteliers on the water supply this season. A “normal” summer for tourists because “there will be no shortage of water for people”. The main restrictions will begin to occur at the beginning of June’. The headlines come from Hosteltur here. It says that plans to survive the effects of the drought by the tourist authorities include switching lawns into ‘autoctonous’ plants, building storage tanks and lowering water pressure in the hotel-rooms.
From The Majorca Daily Bulletin here: ‘Spain is pushing the European Union to scrap the 90 day rule which means that non-resident Britons can only spend 180 days in the country in two blocks of two. The ruling has hit British holiday home owners hard and is said to be costing the Spanish government millions. Until the 90 day requirement is scrapped, this is what you need to know…’ (This issue doesn’t only affect the Brits). The subject returns with the International Business Times here: ‘Is Spain going to change its 90-day rule for British nationals? The movement restrictions imposed by Brexit on Britons, including second-home owners, has had a detrimental effect on EU economies. But, could it all change?’
The Olive Press touches on the same subject with ‘Will a cruise holiday in Europe count towards my 90 day Schengen limit?’ …and finds that there’s not much clarity on this issue.
How to take this one? ‘It is a love affair which shows no sign of going away. In 2023 an estimated 43 million passengers travelled between Spain and the United Kingdom. Roughly speaking that is 63 percent of the whole British population or 90 percent of the total Spanish population…’. The Majorca Daily Bulletin brings us this. I don’t know, perhaps some of them visit twice.
One of our concerns as foreign-residents is that many of us may be elderly, or unwell, and generally worried about our health (and being able to communicate with the doctors and hospital staff). It seems to be a question of luck if one’s doctor speaks our language. Yes, we might have learned to speak some Spanish, but medical vocabulary is not the same as ordering a coffee. Sure, take a translator with you, but what about those living their final times alone in a residencia?
‘The minimum wage (SMI) soars in the 'Sanchez era': growing by 54% with the increase approved on Tuesday, above the rest of the large EU countries’. The headline from 20Minutos fails to note that Germany is currently at 2,054€ per month, Belgium (1,994€) and France (1,766€). Spain is now 1,134€ - although with 14 payments rather than 12.
All contracts are considered to be full-time (jornada completa) unless there is a written contract saying different. Público has the details here.
The government hopes to resolve the question of amnesty for the Catalonian independence rebels, but the Supreme Court now says that their leaders are guilty of terrorism (!). From Catalan News here: ‘…Judge Manuel García-Castellón is investigating Carles Puigdemont, the Esquerra Republicana (ERC) general secretary Marta Rovira, and ten other people for terrorism over their links to the Tsunami Democràtic (Wiki) protest group…’ Are the judges impartial, or a trifle political in their ruling? One strand of this comes from a French tourist who died at the Barcelona airport in 2019 during protests there. His death came from a heart attack. Terrorism or Myocardial infarction? From 20Minutos here: ‘…The possibility of the Supreme Court opening an investigation against the former Catalan president for his links with the alleged terrorist organization Tsunami Democràtic is playing a key role in the processing of the amnesty law. So much so that last week Junts per Catalunya voted against the proposed law (and inadvertently sided with Vox and the PP) precisely because they feared that it did not cover the terrorism crimes that Judge García Castellón is currently investigating…’ It would certainly be nice to see the tensions in Catalonia receding…
Galicia elections February 18
There was a single five-way TV debate on Monday on the Galician regional channel, TVG (Vox wasn’t invited, leaving a clutch of four lefties versus the sitting president Alfonso Rueda). The left-leaning (so they say) CIS poll gives a tight race between the PP and the local BNG allied with the PSOE and Sumar. Podemos appears to have no chance of a seat.
An editorial from Sur in English here: ‘Is democracy dying? British citizens are now able to register to vote in UK general and by-elections. Of course, this comes eight years too late for those who were unable to vote in the 2016 Brexit referendum’.
The Spanish foreign minister José Manuel Albares has sent (an extra) 3.5 million euros to UNRWA to allow the agency to continue its activities in Gaza. 20Minutos has the story.
Opinion at El Plural here: ‘Sr. Moreno Bonilla, how can there not be money to give decent and stable contracts to 7,000 health workers in Andalucía? How can there not be money to increase the number of health workers and strengthen the Andalusian public health system?
There is an acute lack of health-staff in our region. The Andalusian president of the PP has already fired more than 13,000 health workers. No sick leave, vacations, retirements or anything else is covered. There is a lack of human resources. There is a lack of material resources. There is a lack of ambulances. One disaster after another marks the day-to-day life of the sanidad pública andaluza.
‘Journalism is dead: click-bait and sensationalism in the age of misinformation’. Opinion from Generación Beta here: ‘It is evident that the contamination in the media today is absolute. Journalism is drying up at a time to an extent from which it seems impossible to recover. Objectivity and freedom of the press are little more than a utopian fantasy nowadays, since the editorial content is decided by those who wield great fortunes and power. Journalists know to be careful what they write else there will be retaliation. In meetings and meals between media executives, politicians and businessmen, votes are bought and sold, unethical practices are whitewashed and brands, sponsors and people are constantly whitewashed; then on the other side, they poison profiles, ideas or parties depending on their owners’ interests…’
A full list of water restrictions in Catalonia can be found at 20Minutos here.
From Sur in English here: ‘The Junta de Andalucía prepares 110-million-euro job security plan for towns affected by drought. The region's GDP has dropped two points in the last twelve months due to the drought, and, in the agricultural sector alone, 40,000 jobs have already been lost’.
The farmers’ protests have extended to Spain, with tractoradas on some of the motorways. The issues are cheap imports, low prices paid by the supermarkets for produce and a reduction in bureaucratic impositions says La Cadena Ser here. The unions behind the protests are the ASAJA, the COAG and the UPA. As we see from the graphic, they have a valid point regarding the mark-ups in sales to the public. Naturally (and inevitably), a couple of right-wing political parties have thrown in their hat with the protestors says El País here.
Road cuts in real time are here.
Volcanologists have discovered that Spain’s last volcano – in La Garrotxa (Gerona) – was active as recently as 8,000 years ago according to El Huff Post here.
It’s odd, but most Spaniards, if asked, might admit to a low opinion of their compatriots who hail from the province of Murcia, says La Opinión de Murcia here. In a survey from Electomanía, Asturians came out as the most liked by Spaniards (and the Portuguese, although that was another question), while the least popular were the Murcianos. The article says primly ‘…Although Murcia has tourist attractions, a rich history and a thriving agricultural economy, it appears to face challenges in terms of how it is perceived by the rest of the country…’
Carlos III once said: ‘Yo no quiero ni gitanos, ni murcianos, ni gente de mal vivir en mis ejércitos’. (‘I don't want any gypsies, nor Murcians, nor undesirables in my armies’).
From The Olive Press here: ‘A British expat is under fire after allegedly paying himself €86,700-a-year for being the president of his neighbourhood in Spain – despite the job being ‘voluntary’ and ‘salary-free’. Stephen Hills is said to have outraged residents in Torre Bermeja in Estepona (Málaga) after his inflated pay packet was revealed last summer…’
From Eye on Spain here: ‘The flights of Gran Poder. In 1928, 11 years before Franco came to power, when Spain was governed by King Alfonso XIII and his wife Victoria Eugenie (granddaughter of Queen Victoria and Albert) two officers in the Spanish armed forces set out to claim some aviation world records for Spain. The aircraft they were going to use was a Breguet 19. The design was a sesquiplane, a form of biplane with one wing with less than half the area of the other (usually the lower wing). Originally designed as a long range bomber and reconnaissance aircraft, the type had first flown in March 1922. It had a top speed of 214 km/hour and a range of 800km…’
We sometimes talk about going to el chino to buy something, or to el indio for a curry. We shouldn’t. From The Guardian here. ‘A campaign launched by students aims to overcome the ‘micro-racism’ that labels shops and bars by the origins of their owners’.
El Huff Post worries about rising sea levels in the decades to come and asks which cities could be flooded. ‘…The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Wiki) considers that the encroachment of the sea will be especially notable and rapid in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Cádiz and Barcelona. In the case of the Canary archipelago, it is estimated that in 30 years it could rise - in the best possible scenario - up to 26 cm, and by the year 2080, this flood would reach 40 cm…’
Several videos of castles accompany an article from La Razón based around the many castles of Valladolid titled ‘A walk through the most spectacular and best preserved castles in Spain’.
From Fascinating Spain here: ‘The legacy of Al-Andalus through the great Moorish buildings in Spain’.
Here’s the one they chose at the Benidorm Fest, Nebulossa with Zorra on YouTube. (You should have seen the others…). This’ll be Spain’s effort at the Eurovision Song Contest, May 7 – 11. Zorra (a vixen in English) is recognised as an insult towards women in Spanish. Anyway – since the spectacle is all rather camp and ghastly (BBC News doesn’t like it for other reasons) – here to cheer us up is the 1986 Los Toreros Muertos anthem Mi Agüita Amarilla recorded recently in the Auditorio Nacional de Música de Madrid.