Amid drought, Spanish towns will ship water on tankers

STransporting fresh water by sea is becoming a reality in a corner of Spain that has turned to an oil tanker to run taps amid the lowest rainfall in 163 years.

As an exceptional measure to deal with a “historic water deficit”, the public utility Consorcio de Aguas Bilbao Bizkaia, in the Basque region of northern Spain, has ordered a vessel to move 2 million liters of water per day to supply four cities, the company said in a press release. The ship is currently on trial and is expected to start making regular trips from the city of Bilbao to Bermeo, a port about 30 kilometers (19 miles) by land.

The water department has never delivered water from a vessel to a network, a spokesperson told Bloomberg.

Although known for milder temperatures and greener landscapes than most of central and southern Spain, the Basque country has also been hit by a severe drought this summer that has forced authorities to take unprecedented measures, such as the closure of municipal fountains or the ban on filling or restocking private swimming pools. In the three months to July, the Basque province of Biscay recorded the lowest rainfall since 1859, according to the Spanish meteorological agency.

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The tanker is expected to supply the Busturialdea area while protecting the rivers and springs from which water is normally obtained. According to the utility, the rest of the province is safer from water shortages as it pumps water supplies from reservoirs.

spanish newspaper El Pais announced planned water shipments earlier on Wednesday.

Nearly half of the world’s population currently lives in an area at risk of water scarcity for at least one month a year, according to the United Nations.

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