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EXPLAINED: What and where are the drought water restrictions in Catalonia?

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EXPLAINED: What and where are the drought water restrictions in Catalonia?
These are the municipalities on drought emergency level in Catalonia and the restrictions that will apply. Photo: Lluis Gené/AFP

Catalonia's emergency drought plan involves a whole series of water restrictions which will affect 6 million from Friday February 2nd, many in Barcelona. The following drought map and rules breakdown explains in detail.


After three years without any significant rainfall, Spain's northeastern Catalonia region declared a drought emergency on Thursday. Water restrictions will now affect Barcelona and 201 other municipalities in the region in total, over 6 million people and almost 80 percent of the Catalan population.

Pere Aragonès, head of the Catalan regional government, declared the drought after reservoirs in the north-eastern region fell below 16 percent of their capacity, the benchmark set by authorities for the implementation of water-saving measures.


The drought plans extend restrictions on the use of water for citizens, administrations, and industry in Barcelona and practically the entire Barcelona province.

READ ALSO: Barcelona enters drought emergency with tighter water restrictions

Under the current plans residential taps in Barcelona will not be affected yet.

However, in the worst-case scenario, if it does not rain, restrictions would reach taps in capital in the summer, when the city tends to consume the most drinking water, over 170 litres per person, according to data from last year.

The following map we've created shows the 200+ municipalities that have entered the emergency drought level (in red) and where the restrictions we've listed below will apply. You can hover over the map and zoom to look at specific municipalities.


These restrictions are not advisory, and fines of up to €3000 can be levied for those who disobey them and are “uncivic” with their water use in a way that undermines the Generalitat's Special Drought Plan. These include washing the car, watering the garden or filling the swimming pool with drinking water. In these three cases the fines are €30, €50 and up to €200 respectively.

Other offences are classified as minor can warrant fines of up €750, serious up to €1,500, and very serious between €1,501 and €3,000.

Here’s what you need to know about the restrictions in place.

Water pressure cuts

Municipalities that use 200 litres of water per inhabitant per day are the first to suffer water restrictions in residential homes. However, these restrictions do not mean total supply cuts, but rather a reduction in water pressure when the usual night-time pressure will be applied during daylight hours.

The first three municipalities where the restrictions will reach domestic taps are Corbera de Llobregat, Cervelló and La Palma de Cervelló. These three municipalities around Barcelona have a total population of 28,000 inhabitants but have the highest water consumption in the Barcelona area: between 262 and 282 litres per person per day in November. However, this record consumption is largely due to water losses in the outdated supply network.


Car washing bans

Cleaning of any type of vehicle is prohibited, except in specific commercial establishments that use water recirculation.

Street cleaning

Street cleaning with drinking water, such as water used for street sweeping, sewer cleaning, pavements, facades or similar, whether public or private, is prohibited. The only exceptions are cleaning after an accident, a fire or if there is a risk to health or traffic. Municipalities may use reclaimed water or water from underground reservoirs and groundwater. Cleaning windows and windowsills with a bucket and sponge is allowed.

Watering of green areas and gardens (public and private)

Watering gardens and green areas, whether public or private, is also prohibited. The exceptions are the watering trees for survival or botanical gardens if it is done with regenerated or phreatic water. Any watering must be done at "low sunshine" hours.

READ ALSO: 'Hard to live like this in 2024' - How drought is affecting Catalonia


It is also forbidden to fill or partially fill ornamental fountains, artificial lakes or any other aesthetic use for water. Only refuges for endangered fauna or for the recovery of species are acceptable, with the minimum water required.

No ice rinks or recreational use of water

Similarly, the use of water for recreational events, whether public or private, with water that can be consumed by the public is prohibited, so ice rinks, foam parties and water games more generally are all banned.


Swimming pools

It is forbidden to fill all or part of any type of swimming pool, whether public or private. Refilling is only permitted using the amount of water necessary to guarantee sanitary quality and with water recirculation systems in the indoor pools of the Generalitat's facilities, provided that they apply measures to save the water used for refilling in the showers.

Outdoor pools may also be refilled, but the showers must be closed to compensate for the water used. It will also be possible to refill therapeutic pools in public facilities and pools that use seawater as long as they are not connected to the sewage system. Campsites have asked to be able to use seawater.

No showers on beaches

The use of showers on beaches is also banned, though this had been the case in many municipalities since last summer.

Economic and agricultural activities

In this emergency phase, agricultural irrigation is reduced by 80 percent, agricultural water use by 50 percent, and industrial use by 25 percent.

Moratorium on new economic activities

The plan also includes a moratorium on the authorisation of new water-intensive economic activities, such as new farms or extensions to existing ones, industries or tourist activities and new urban planning.


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