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Ana María Pujante Mora

World Water Day is celebrated on 22 March. On this day, the United Nations (UN-Water) aims to raise public awareness by promoting actions to tackle the water crisis. In 2024 the motto is “Harnessing Water for Peace“. This slogan highlights the problems that arise when water is scarce or polluted, or when part of the population has no access to water resources. The impacts of climate change on the availability of water highlight the need to unite to protect and conserve a resource that is essential for the development of life.

In the 2023 Synthesis Report on UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 related to water and sanitation, a plan for its acceleration is presented:

  • We need to work six times faster on drinking water to avoid 2 billion people still living without safely managed drinking water by 2030.
  • Due to significant data gaps on ambient water quality (42% of domestic wastewater is not treated), part of the population is at risk of being exposed to pollution.
  • Floods and droughts are becoming more frequent and extreme (due to climate change), leading to an increase in the number of water-related disasters.
  • Cooperation agreements are needed for transboundary rivers, lakes and aquifers.

One of the greatest global risks to the planet is the availability of freshwater. The following figure shows the critical state of the planet’s major river basins (data from 2018):

Water stress level in large river basins, 2018 (Source: FAO, Aquastat Database, 2022)

In Spain, the Ministerio para la Transición Ecológica y el Reto Demográfico carries out monthly monitoring of the indicators and situation of drought and scarcity in all the inter-community river basins. In these reports it distinguishes:

  • Prolonged drought or meteorological drought, which is caused directly by the lack of precipitation, significantly reducing the circulating flow of rivers.
  • Hydrological scarcity or drought, related to possible problems in meeting demand (supply, irrigation, etc.).

The latest report on the drought and scarcity situation, corresponding to March 2024, shows the status of both indicators (prolonged drought and scarcity) in Spain:

Prolonged drought indicators map (29/02/2024)
Map indicators scarcity (29/02/2024)

In the Comunidad Valenciana, the Portal Agrari de la Generalitat Valenciana contains the drought situation and monitoring reports, where a brief analysis is made of the evolution of the meteorology and the drought, and the situation of the hydrographic basins and the evolution of the main crops. Among the information that can be consulted are the maps of the standardised precipitation index or drought index (SPI) and the scarcity status index (IEE) for each territorial scarcity unit (UTE):

Standardised precipitation index (December 2023)
Scarcity indicator in the Júcar Basin (December 2023)

On World Water Day, the key message is to understand that water is not just a resource to be harnessed and competed for; water is a human right, intrinsic to all aspects of life.

River Turia as it passes through the Serranos

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