An aerial, zenith view of a reservoir in the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula. Mediano, August 2023. Jordi Jon Pardo.

The Water of Climate Change

9 February, 2024

In the shadow of an unprecedented drought, we are cast into a tale as ancient as the seas, where humanity’s struggle with the whims of nature unfolds anew. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, through ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,’ poeticizes the water’s cruel paradox: an expanse of sea that offers no reprieve from thirst. This image of mariners adrift, ensnared by water yet perishing from lack of it, resembles the irony facing our modern places.

The city of Barcelona has become a critical case study for water management challenges in southern Europe. As the province contends today with reservoirs at alarmingly low levels, authorities have imposed stringent water consumption limits and are considering far-reaching measures such as importing water by ship. Such drastic scenarios have catalyzed innovative responses such as desalination and water purification, underscoring the need for sustainable water usage and the importance of collective action in addressing the pressing issue of the absence of rain and fresh water.

Barcelona’s plight with drought conditions is symptomatic of a broader climate reality that Southern Europe is expected to endure, with the Mediterranean region warming faster than many other parts of the world. These conditions necessitate vigilant management of water resources and highlight the significance of reevaluating agricultural practices that currently consume the lion’s share of water resources.

Hotels in Barcelona have started initiatives like the “four-minute shower challenge” to conserve water, while agricultural irrigation faces cuts by 80%. These measures illustrate the severity of the situation and the critical need for both short-term and long-term strategies to ensure water security.

This water crisis in Barcelona presents a poignant backdrop for reflections on the modern challenges of water scarcity and the extensive measures being taken to secure this vital resource.


Future of Water: Our Approach to it

At MÓN, we delve into the ecological and human considerations and their intersection with the issue of desertification. Grandiose solutions such as the desalination processes of up to seven cubic hectometers to tackle the summer if the rains fail (seven billion liters) and the transportation of these volumes in industrial maritime vessels… all within the current context of climate change.

This narrative touches upon the monumental scale of human ingenuity and resourcefulness in the face of environmental crises. The stark contrast between ancient, nature-driven hydrological cycles and modern, industrial-scale solutions offers a rich ground for discussion. Barcelona’s reliance on such vast quantities of desalinated water reflects a broader global struggle where the ingenuity of solutions must match the enormity of the challenges posed by climate change.

Such considerations open up critical dialogues about sustainability, the impact of human intervention on natural water cycles, and the balancing act between immediate needs and long-term environmental stewardship. The story of Barcelona’s water crisis is a microcosm of a world grappling with the realities of climate change, where each drop of water is becoming as precious as the efforts to conserve it.

Barcelona's tram lines are drying out due to water restrictions amid drought. Barcelona, February 2024. Jordi Jon Pardo.