Amid drought, Spanish cities will deliver water by tankers

Stransferring fresh water by sea is becoming a reality in a corner of Spain that has been converted into a tanker to keep the taps running in the lightest rainfall in 163 years.

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

The water company has never shipped water from a ship to a grid, a spokesperson told Bloomberg.

Although known for cooler temperatures and greener landscapes than most of central and southern Spain, the Basque Country has also been hit hard by drought this summer forced authorities to take unprecedented measures, such as closing municipal fountains or banning the filling or refilling of private pools. In the three months to July, the Basque province of Biscay recorded its lowest rainfall since 1859, according to Spain’s meteorological agency.

Read more: Drought and war in Ukraine push Somalia towards catastrophic famine

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

Spanish newspaper El Pais announced the planned water supplies earlier Wednesday.

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

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