Spain will invest €14.9 billion ($16 billion) in water projects over the coming years to alleviate drought, Teresa Ribera, the country’s environment minister, announced on Tuesday, APA reports citing Anadolu Agency.
Nearly €12 billion of the investment will go towards projects like desalination, water reuse, making pipelines more efficient, and regulating other infrastructures.
The other more than €3 billion will go towards “digitizing water” with new technologies and big data, which the government says will be a “qualitative leap” in terms of managing water and the drought.
According to the government, 14.6% of Spain is currently in the throes of a “drought emergency,” while a further 27.4% is on alert for drought.
Although torrential rains from the recent storm brought much-needed water to some parts of Spain, the government said it has not solved the existing problems.
It also said climate change is making Spain more vulnerable to drought than other European nations. That is why it is moving to optimize available water to decrease the socio-economic impacts of a lack of rainfall.
Due to the drought, the government estimates that grain production dropped 40% this year compared to the last year. As a result, Spain will have to import around 20 million tons of it.
Fruit and vegetable production has also been hit. The government said that in Andalusia, instead of planting tomatoes on the usual 6,600 hectares (16,308 acres) of land this year, the drought dramatically reduced the production area to 1,700 hectares (4.200 acres).
The government also warned that Spain is set to see the second poor olive oil yield in a row, although figures suggest the 2023 season will be slightly better than last year’s. The weather in the coming weeks will be key, as the new season begins on Oct. 1.