Blogging from the Murcia region of Spain until early June, when I return to
the Highlands of Scotland for a few months

'Fair and softly goes far' - Miguel de Cervantes

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Decline in local water levels reversed by a week+ of rain

It is perhaps too soon to know if it is a mere "blip", but the Segura river basin, which supplies water in the Murcia region of Spain, has recorded its first positive weekly change in recent months after what has reportedly been a long and hot and very dry summer, with the rains in the area over the past week. Most northern Europeans, me included, tend to consider "good weather" as being rain-free and of course sunny, but of course in the semi-desert conditions locally, different criteria govern a comfortable existence - and a part of that has to include some rain, even if locally that tends to mean violent swings between lengthy droughts and much briefer periods of intense rain and the accompanying flooding and damage as rain runs off dry and hard ground.

Be that as it may, over the past week water reserves in the Segura river basin have risen by 0.2% to 59.5%, after several months of steady reduction. As an indication, when I started to record weekly water reserve data in the middle of July, the local figure was 72%.

Until earlier this year, another locally-maintained website (by another owner at the same development where I have my holiday-home) had provided very useful weather data over the past approximately 9 years, but with the return to the UK of this owner and the passing on of the maintenance of his website to another owner (not known to me), some of the more useful aspects of this weather data recording seem to have been discontinued, although current weather conditions are still being reported.

As a non-resident owner, I am not able to record locally-gathered daily data about rainfall and temperature, but weekly information about water reserves nationally across Spain and in various regions (for the different river basins) is fortunately available on-line, so once I noticed a few months ago that local weather data was no longer being collected and tabulated so meticulously in this other local website, I decided that I could at least record water reserve data on a weekly basis, to give some indication of weather trends, because I missed being able to turn to the other website for this historic information. You can find this information in the "Spanish Info[rmation]" part of the Links page ( in my Spanish website - or you can go direct to the water reserve data by clicking here.

Water reserves nationally are still declining, although to a much lesser extent than during the height of the summer. One of the [few "good"] effects of the economic downturn in Spain since 2007/2008 is that the significant use of water by the construction industry (and the largely immigrant or at least non-local labour force it employed) has dropped dramatically, so there is not the extreme pressure on scarce water resources that once existed, when massive water transfers from other more abundantly-watered parts of Spain had to be done every so often, with all the regional political rivalries that ensued; there has also been a reduction in the land used for agricultural production (until perhaps very recently), with land being given over to solar power generation and the introduction of new desalination plants, all of which have reduced pressure on water resources, even though this has been accompanied by cost increases. For example, during the height of the construction boom until 2007/2008, water reserves locally in the summer often dropped to a low of around 12%, basically the muddy sludge in the bottom of water channels and storage reservoirs, which required emergency transfers from other parts of the country (accompanied by political ructions) if the basic needs of the human population were to be satisfied, with the costs of water for agricultural usage rising significantly and resulting in significant acreage being taken out of production. At least the recent rainfall has added a little to the water table.

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