Spain withers in drought

Via WSJ:

MADRID — Spain is wilting under the severest drought in six decades, forcing farmers in Europe’s citrus grove to cut forecasts for this year’s harvest and compromising power generation as reservoirs dry up.

“Our farmers are looking skyward every day waiting for rain. The situation is severe and could deteriorate soon,” said Stephan Roetzer, the chief executive of SanLucar Fruit SL in Valencia, a fruit producer. (…)

Spain’s State Meteorological Agency, or AEMET, this week said it has recorded 40% less rainfall than usual since Oct. 1. Authorities call it the driest period since the 1940s. Portugal and Morocco have been similarly afflicted. (…)

Spain’s northeastern region of Catalonia, whose capital is Barcelona, became the first in Spain to impose water restrictions this year when in February it prohibited the use of drinkable water for washing cars or filling swimming pools. Authorities there have arranged to bring water to Barcelona by boat from Marseilles as well a couple of nearby Spanish cities to relieve the shortage. Catalonia reservoir levels are at about 22% capacity. If they fall below 20% additional restrictions could be put in place. (…)

Power costs could rise, too. Spanish power producers are troubled by shrinking reservoirs and dry riverbeds. Hydroelectric power dams are running below their capacity, putting further upside pressure to already high energy costs.

Bankinter SA analyst David Garcia Moral in Madrid expects generation costs to soar to a range of between €60 ($94.25) to €65 a megawatt hour in 2008 from an average of €39.21 last year as a result of the low stages.

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