April 20th 2024 | 2:09


How Bilbao overcame the great drought of the 90s

How Seville and Bilbao overcame the great drought of the 90s

Jeickson Sulbaran

February 14, 2024 | 12:56 p.m.

La The 90s brought with it one of the greatest droughts that Spain has ever experienced, leaving cities like Seville and Bilbao in extreme situations. Those who lived through that time clearly remember the water cuts that lasted up to 12 hours a day, a drastic measure to address the shortage of such a vital resource. Sevilla, in particular, was so affected that the evacuation of the city was considered. Meanwhile, in the north, Bilbao also suffered the consequences of the lack of rain, a unusual situation in a known region because of its rainy climate.

At that time, measures to deal with drought were extreme. In SevillaFor example, bathtubs were filled to store water and used with extreme care, adapting its use to the most pressing needs of the home. The inhabitants of the time remember how the quality of the water, coming directly from the Guadalquivir, was poor, forcing them to rely on bottled water, the price of which rose due to speculation.

Lessons learned and a change in water management

This traumatic experience helped both cities learn valuable lessons about water management. In BilbaoEg turning off the water for 12 hours a day It was considered an absolute failure of an essential public service. Since then, hard work has been done to ensure that such a situation is not repeated, even under similar drought conditions.

An important change in Water management has been the prioritization of urban supply over other uses, such as hydroelectric. In addition, stricter operating standards have been implemented for reservoirs, ensuring that their capacity remains at acceptable levels even in periods of scarcity.

New infrastructures and a more aware citizenry

How Seville and Bilbao overcame the historic drought of the 90s

Cities have invested in new infrastructure and technologies to improve water management. In SevillaFor example, the Melonares reservoir was built, providing an additional source of supply. In addition, the reduction in domestic consumption has been significant, thanks to better education and habits of citizens. In Bilbao, the city's total consumption has decreased by 40%, while in Vitoria-Gasteiz the reduction reaches 50%.

Furthermore, progress has been made in fight against water leaks, using technologies such as Artificial Intelligence to detect and solve problems in the distribution network. There has also been a change in the use of household appliances, with a preference for those that consume less water.

Despite the improvements, the current drought, which has been around for more than five and a half years, poses new challenges, the experience of the 90s has taught Seville and Bilbao the importance of being prepared, but has also shown that the work to ensure a sustainable and quality water supply never ends. The uncertainty of climate change and the intensification of periods of scarcity require constant vigilance and adaptive strategies.

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