By Elena Rodriguez and Guillermo Martinez
A bird walks at the Sierra Boyera Reservoir, which is at 0.01% of its capacity, in Belmez, southern Spain April 26, 2023
Residents of a small town in southern Spain gathered at the main square to collect drinking water as large swathes of the Iberian Peninsula braved unseasonally hot weather that have exacerbated a long drought.
Meteorologists expected temperatures to hit almost 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in some areas of Spain this week.
According to the Andalusia regional government, around 80,000 people living in Alcaracejos and another 27 villages in the province of Cordoba rely on truck deliveries for drinking water, since drought has exhausted the nearby reservoir and the water from another dam has been deemed unsafe for consumption.
“I have never experienced this before,” local resident Mari Carmen told Reuters after filling her bottles. She recalled times when they had running water for only a few hours a day, but never needing to carry the bottles home.
Although Spain’s reservoirs are on average at 50% of their capacity, levels have fallen to approximately 25% in Andalusia and the northeastern region of Catalonia.
The Guadalquivir Hydrographic Confederation certified earlier this month that water in the Sierra Boyera mountain range had been exhausted, the first time in 40 years that a reservoir in Cordoba has dried out.
“We are being supplied with water through a cistern. It’s a rather uncomfortable situation and, above all, precarious for the times in which we live,” Alcaracejos Mayor Jose Luis Cabrera said.
Residents can receive up to five litres (1.3 gallons) per day from a truck that drives through the affected villages.
In neighbouring Portugal, temperatures have also been abnormally high, with at least 36 C expected on Thursday in the district of Evora – in line with Portugal’s record for April set in 1945, or even beating that mark, weather agency IPMA said.
Authorities have declared three municipalities in Portugal’s southern region of Algarve at maximum risk of wildfires.
“We just got here today from the United States, we looked it up and it looked like it was going to be warm but I was not expecting it to be this hot,” tourist Brad DePolli told Reuters in Lisbon, where the temperature hit 32 C.
Authorities in France, meanwhile, will have wildfire-fighting troops and their water-carrying aircraft ready on June 1, one month earlier than usual, to adapt to fires starting earlier than in the past due to climate change.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2023-04-27/drought-hit-spanish-town-gets-water-trucked-in-as-temperatures-peak