Friday, December 08, 2017

Drought leads to water rationing in capital

Parched terraced farm land in La Gomera's north
The severe drought which is affecting the Canary Islands has now begun to affect the drinking water supply even on La Gomera, which normally has an abundant supply of spring water. Recently the council of the capital San Sebastian de La Gomera introduced emergency measures to ensure a sufficient supply to the taps of the town. Water in specific districts will be cut off in rotation at night from 11pm until 7am when supplies have fallen, in a measure to allow the supply to be maintained everywhere during the day. It is generally prohibited to use drinking water to wash cars, water gardens, etc. Public green areas will be irrigated with recycled and purified waste water. The town has already installed pressure-reducing valves in many locations to conserve water and is continuing to repair any leaking pipes.

Rainfall has been below average in the Canary Islands for four consecutive years now and the situation is grave, particularly for agriculture. In October and November of this year only 25% of the average amount of precipitation for this period fell in the Canaries. Crops have failed or couldn't be sown, fruit trees died and many irrigation-water reservoirs are completely empty. The low humidity, unseasonal heat and lack of rain have also led to a proliferation of pests and plant diseases. The beekeepers of La Gomera report that honey production is down to just 40% of normal because of the drought, and many wild bees are literally dying of hunger while beekeepers are having to feed their bees with sugared water.

Tourists and visitors hardly notice anything abnormal, except for the less green countryside, as the taps and showers still run. I don't want to sound alarmist, but I would appeal to all to please use La Gomera's water sparingly and help conserve what's left of the island's precious resource. Unlike the other Canary islands we don't have desalination plants to supply the tourism infrastructure on La Gomera, and even if some rain may fall soon it will take a lot of rain over a longer period of time to percolate deeply to feed the springs and to return the water deposits to normal levels.

No comments :