‘Hitting rock bottom’ – drought, heat drain Spanish reservoirs – Reuters

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CIJARA, Spain, Aug 10 (Reuters) – A flock of sheep shelter from the afternoon sun under the Gothic arches of a medieval bridge that overflowed in 1956 to create the Cijara reservoir in central Spain, but is now completely exposed because it reservoir is 84% ​​empty after a severe drought.

In Andalusia, one of the hottest and driest regions of Europe, paddle boats and water slides lie abandoned on the crack of the Vinuela reservoir, remnants of a rental company disappeared with the water, now at a critical level of 13%.

A nearby restaurant fears a similar fate.

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“The situation is quite dramatic in the sense that it has been a few years without rain and we are hitting the bottom,” said owner Francisco Bazaga, 52. “If it doesn’t rain, unless they find some alternative water supply, the future is is very, very dark.”

A prolonged dry spell and extreme heat made July the hottest month in Spain since at least 1961. Spanish reservoirs are at just 40% of capacity on average in early August, well below the ten-year average of around 60%, official data show .

“We are in a particularly dry year, a very difficult year that confirms what climate change scenarios have highlighted,” Energy Minister Teresa Ribera told a press conference on Monday, also highlighting that the drought is leading to devastating wildfires.

Climate change has left parts of the Iberian Peninsula at their driest in 1,200 years, and winter rains are expected to decrease further, a study published last month by the journal Nature Geoscience found.

The dry, hot weather is likely to continue in autumn, the Spanish meteorological service AEMET said in a recent report, putting further strain on Europe’s largest network of dam reservoirs with a holding capacity of 5.6 billion cubic meters.

At the Buendia reservoir east of Madrid, the ruins of a village and bathhouses have reappeared, caked in dry mud, Reuters drone footage showed, while at another dam near Barcelona a ninth-century Romanesque church has emerged intact, which it attracts visitors.

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Additional reporting by Albert Gea, Jon Nazca, Susana Vera, Borja Suarez, Editing by Andrei Khalip and Jane Merriman

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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