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Spain, a country of reservoirs

by Arron T. Shultz, Gela Studios consultant.

In Spain there are more than 350 reservoirs with a total storage capacity of 54.000 hm³ of
water, which amounts to 50% of the river discharge in the country. Nearby our area, we find
two of them:
Mequinenza Reservoir (Zaragoza)
Also known as ‘Mar de Aragón’ (the Sea of Aragón), it has a volume of 1.530 hm³. Built in
1966 on the Ebro River, it has an area of 7.540 hectares of water surface, being the largest
reservoir in Aragon. Its volume reaches 1.530 hm³, dedicated to the production of electrical
energy. It has an average width of 600m, and its depth exceeds 60m. The 79m high dam
rests on the limestone foothills of the Sierra de Montenegre and La Huerta, in the
municipality of Mequinenza. The hydroelectric use of the Ebro River forced the execution of
important complementary works such as the new towns of Mequinenza of Fayón, variants
of existing roads, the creation of new bridges over the Ebro, Segre and Matarraña rivers or
variants of the Barcelona-Madrid railway.
Pena Reservoir (Teruel)
In the riverbed of the Pena River, is an indivisible part of the natural environment in the
Matarraña region. Its construction began in 1909, flooding some cottages located in its
environments and finished in 1930. The dam is 41 meters high and 119 meters long,
covering 129 hectares and with a capacity of 18.500.500 cubic meters. The reservoir serves
eminently for agricultural purposes. It is located at the foot of the ‘Puertos de Beceite’
mountain range. To get there, two paths are worth mentioning (although there are other
ways), one being the paved track from Beceite and the other a trail starting on the A-1414
road between Fuentespalda and Valderrobres. Those two options are well fit for car
transportation. The cycling route starts from the dam where the gate is located and finishes
at the Pena River. It is a low difficulty route of just 4.53km.
The issue of reservoirs in Spain is controversial since the problem does not lie so much in
drought -a permanent climatic characteristic- as in the concept of water scarcity. This refers
to the relationship between the amount of water in an area and its demand. Therefore, one
of the measures imposed by the Junta de Andalucía in the city of Malaga and on the Costa
del Sol (where the offense is very visible) is the prohibition of the use of water for certain
purposes. This means restriction on the tasks of washing streets, filling private swimming
pools and water gardens, watering parks and golf courses, car washing outside official
facilities in use, as well as for ornamental fountains that are not closed circuit, public
showers and street fountains for human consumption. Ironically, it rained the same day the

restrictions were passed. Since then, reservoirs have gained around 33 hm³, which would
now reach 224 hm³, the equivalent of the amount of water that the entire province would
consume over 4 months. The largest reservoirs that supply water to the city of Malaga
(Guadalhorce, Guadalteba and Conde de Guadalhorce) currently contain a total of 145 hm³,
in contrast to 125.7 hm³ a week ago. However, even this is not enough to avoid the
restrictions. According to the mandate, the city of Malaga will not come out of the state of
emergency until these reservoirs can maintain a minimum capacity of 140 hm³ for more
than two consecutive months.

jardines acuáticos, regado de parques y campos de golf, lavado de coches fuera de
instalaciones oficiales al uso, así como para fuentes ornamentales que no sean de circuito
cerrado, duchas públicas y fuentes a pie de calle para consumo humano. Irónicamente,
llovió el mismo día que las restricciones se aprobaron. Desde entonces, las reservas de
embalses han ganado alrededor de 33 hm³ con lo que ahora alcanzarían los 224 hm³, el
equivalente a la cantidad de agua que consumiría toda la provincia a lo largo de 4 meses.
Los embalses mayores que proveen de agua la ciudad de Málaga (Guadalhorce, Guadalteba
y Conde de Guadalhorce) contienen en la actualidad un total de 145 hm³, en contraste a los
125.7 hm³ de hace una semana. No obstante, ni siquiera esto es suficiente para evitar las
restricciones. De acuerdo con el mandato, la ciudad de Málaga no saldrá del estado de
emergencia hasta que estos embalses puedan mantener una capacidad mínima de 140 hm³
durante más de dos meses consecutivos.

Image of the local newspaper Matarranya

Translation:

ARTICLE – April 1st Fortnight ‘22
No accidents or incidents to regret after 120 liters left by rainstorms across the region.
Far more severe was April’s frost striking fruit tree crops near Tastavins and Matarraña
rivers.
BY RUBÉN LOMBARTE.

An intense rainstorm season lasting the second fortnight of March in full has left over 120
liters across the region, making the rivers Tastavins, Matarranya and Algars come to life
again, as well as their affluents. While generous, the precipitation over these days have
caused no damage – important to note the contrast between zones: The Puertos of Beceite
and high altitudes in general have experienced intense rainfall, while moderate and mild
showers happened by the north of the region. Over the month of March, the Mitxa-Vila
observatory registered 149 liters of precipitation, while the meteomassalio.com observatory
(located at the north of the region) registered 67 liters. This storm resulted in increased flow
in rivers, especially on March 21st, as corroborated by the Confederación Hidrográfica as
they monitor river capacity. Said Monday, river Ulldemó was carrying 31 cubic meters per
second – the very same water volumes the Matarraña river was carrying under the village of
Beceite, later increasing up to 139 m³ when passing by the town of Nonaspe next day.
Chairman of La Comarca and mayor of Mazaleón Rafa Martí concluded ‘it has been a regular
rainstorm season, over 90, 100 and 110 liters over Els Ports (Natural Park)’. A showered
fortnight that has seen floods in some rivers but gladly no damages to account for. Martí
explained ‘we have been experiencing some sort of hydric fear, everyone is thankful for this
precipitation levels – do think of the Balsa of Vall Comuna, unable to be filled as the
ecological flow wasn’t high enough’, as he also added that ‘even though irrigation and tap
water were covered, drylands required about 60 or 70 liters more to (healthily) come out of
winter’. It has been in fact a warm and excessively dry winter, with scarce precipitation. If
we look back in search of a rainy month, we’d have to go back as far as last year’s
November. Far more severe was the recent frost happening at the basins of rivers Tastavins
and Matarraña. The low temperatures, as low as -4ºC in some parts of the region, have
damaged many fruits and almond tree crops.