The good news is that March has been a very rainy month. Extremely rainy, in fact. Moreover, April, despite the sudden changes in temperature, has also brought a lot of water. A water that was needed. The bad news is that it hasn’t helped. Or very little: we are still in a drought and the only thing we have achieved is a little more time.
An exceptionally dry Spain. It is hard to find a drier water year than this one in the last decade. During the months between October 2021 and February 2022, many parts of the country received less than 25% of the usual water: the sad verses that Neruda said that he could write one night must have been very similar to the accumulated rainfall in the southeast of the peninsula. We were, once again, on the verge of ecological catastrophe.
Yes, I am aware that “ecological catastrophe” are big words. But the truth is that, as the case of the Mar Menor shows, it is very difficult to balance economic development and ecological balance. And, in this sense, many ecosystems have been in crisis for many years and their plasticity is not infinite: we are close to a point of no return in almost all the hydrographic basins of the country.
then came the rain. We said a few months ago that, although in recent decades our water management and that was allowing us to endure, we were somewhat lacking in long-term strategy. Put bluntly, we depend more and more on meteorological chance to not exceed the red lines of ecological deterioration. That ‘meteorological chance’ this year has been called ‘March’, that is, the difference between these two images.
Is the drought over? That is the big question everyone is asking. Much of the country has gone from being “very dry” or “extremely dry” to “very wet” or “extremely wet.” That is good news. However, it is enough to take a look at the reservoir water (and compare it not only with the average of the last ten years, but with 2020 and 2021) to verify that what we have experienced this March is a small respite, yes; but it does not manage to get us out of the structural problem that we live.
Waiting for rain is not a management policy. It is true, as we have already analyzed in the past, that the problems in the reservoirs are not only due to the lack of rain, but also to malfunctions in the electrical system. The question is what are we doing. As Jose María Santafé said a few days ago, as the long periods of drought become more numerous and common (which they will be), we must seriously ask ourselves what we are doing.
Because “in the current reality, the drought is, to a large extent, a damage created by ourselves”; the water deficit is a problem, but the enormous problems that we accumulate at the management level (and our difficulty in ordering the productive sector on a regional scale) mean that any climatic trends become a bomb waiting to explode. A bomb with a shorter and shorter fuse.