Catalan government eases water restrictions for farmers

Climate change and drought top Catalans' concerns, new survey shows

Fields in Armentera, Girona
Fields in Armentera, Girona / Gerard Vilà
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

March 22, 2024 04:54 PM

March 22, 2024 08:54 PM

The Catalan government has agreed to make some water restrictions for agriculture and livestock more flexible, fulfilling one of the promises made in the wake of last month's protests by farmers.

After meeting with farmers, the Climate Action Department has decided not to impose restrictions on water use in livestock farms based on breeding females, while further restrictions will be eased in the pig sector.

For agriculture, the government will make the measures more flexible for woody and permanent crops, which include fruit trees, nut trees, olive trees and vineyards, among others.

As Catalonia suffers its worst drought on record, farmers in regions of Catalonia under red alert for drought have had to reduce irrigation by 80% and livestock farmers have had to cut water use in half.

The flexibility of the measures is aimed at "preventing any farm in the country from having to let livestock or trees die," the government said.

"We are making progress together in the search for solutions that will allow the viability and continuity of all agricultural businesses in Catalonia," said David Mascort, Climate Action minister.

However, the Farmers' Union said it regretted that "it has not been possible to immediately achieve fair treatment" for agriculture and livestock with other sectors.

Climate change and drought: Catalans' main worry

A survey conducted by the Catalan government's Centre for Opinion Studies revealed that climate change and drought are the primary concerns for Catalans.

In the survey, conducted between February and March, 15% of respondents cited this as their foremost concern, followed by politics at 11%, relations between Catalonia and Spain at 9%, and precarious employment at 8%.

Despite Catalonia experiencing a drought for over three years, it is the first time that drought has emerged as one of the top worries for Catalans. However, during the drought in 2008, 23% of the population already identified this as the main issue in the region.

Water conservation by merging irrigation canals

The Urgell and Segarra-Garrigues irrigation canals, which carry water from the Segre river to the fields of several municipalities in the Lleida region, have proposed to merge to save resources.

The presidents of the two irrigation associations, Amadeu Ros and Josep Maria Jové, said the merger would improve water management and make irrigation more efficient.

Jové said that Segarra-Garrigues has been asking the government for this merger for more than 10 years, arguing that the canal is "underutilized." The government has responded positively to the proposal.

To learn more about the drought, listen to this episode of our podcast Filling the Sink.