Less tourists means more sustainable water use

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Water consumption falls on Ibiza
By Jerry Brownstein
A silver lining of the Covid-19 crisis has been a great improvement in Ibiza’s perennial problems of water shortage. Measurements at the end of the summer showed that water consumption had fallen greatly compared to recent years, and this was obviously because of the great reduction in tourism.

Ibiza has two sources of fresh water: aquifers (underground lakes) and water produced through desalination plants. The aquifers are supplied by rainwater, and the level of these water reserves is measured every two months. The low points are at the end of each summer when there has been little precipitation, and consumption is at its peak due to tourism. Ibiza has historically recovered from its long dry seasons during the wetter, less busy autumn and winter. However, the increase in tourism consumption over the past 15 years has depleted the aquifers to such an extent that the natural rainfall is not enough to refill them.

To help remedy this there are three desalination treatment plants that supply fresh water to the island. This takes the pressure off of the aquifers, but their levels still go dangerously low at the end of each summer... but not this year. The director of Water Resources of the Balearic Government attributes the much lower consumption to the decrease in tourism this summer due to the epidemic. Normally there is a “drought alert” for low aquifer levels starting in May, but this year that has not happened. This should allow our aquifers to be fully restored this winter.


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