Sala de Graus II. Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
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CREAF Talk with Narcís Prat - "Drought in Catalonia: climate change or poor water management?"

Friday, June 2, 202312 - 13 pm CET

TITLE: "Drought in Catalonia: climate change or poor water management?"

DATE: Friday 2nd June, 2023.

TIME & FORMAT: form 12 to 1pm CET - In-person and online.

Seminars will combine in-person and online formats (CREAF, Sala Graus II, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain) but in all cases, talks will be always streamed (not recorded), so they can be followed online.

HOW TO CONNECT: direct link to Narcís Prat's conference.


After two years of very low rainfall, the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona is in emergency, because the reservoirs and aquifers that provide water to this region are at less than 25% of its capacity. If rainfall doesn’t arrive before September, the city of Barcelona and its Metropolitan Area may have water cuts. The water scarcity is due to the increase of temperature and lower rainfall due to climate change or is a matter of inefficient water planning and management? In 2008 the same region suffers a similar situation that ends with an intense rainfall event. From 2009-2019 mean precipitation hasn’t change much, but the periodicity and intensity of rainfall has had large extremes, with dry years and big flooding events, like the Gloria storm, that fully filled some reservoirs. At the same time water domestic water consumption has decreased 10% in great Barcelona area despite the building of many new homes. In the Ebro basin part of Catalonia similar situation exist, but in this case affects to agriculture. In May 2023 the two main irrigation channels (40 m3/sec) have been closed, no water exists for the irrigation of fields this season. In both cases economic losses may be enormous and consequences for the population go beyond water problems and, for example, significant increases in food are expected.  While in the coastal areas new resources are produced by desalination or water regeneration, this may be insufficient to impede the water cuts. In the agricultural areas the issue is far more dramatic, because (as was predicted by many researchers) this will not be a temporal issue and probably many hectares of irrigation fields cannot have water in the future. The question is the same, is a matter of climate change or poor management? If the situation was predicted, why actions were not taken to adapt domestic and agricultural uses to the water scarcity predictions?  And what are the environmental effects of such drought on freshwater communities? After 50 years of research in water quality and management issues I will try to answer some of such questions  


Narcís Prat, PhD in Biological Sciences, Emeritus Professor of Ecology at the Universitat de Barcelona. He has studied aquatic ecosystems during more than 50 years. Founder and first director of the FEHM research group (Freshwater Ecology, Hydrology and Management. Author of more than 300 articles in specialized journals on topics of aquatic ecology, biodiversity, and water management. Director of 25 doctoral theses and more than 50 bachelor's or master's degrees. Studies at the long terminus of the rivers in the province of Barcelona since 1979. In the field of dissemination, there are many interventions in press, television, etc... Author of many disseminations works, among which stand out the APP "Riu net" that allows any person to diagnose the state of a river (citizen science). For 10 years expert of the public prosecutor of Environmental crimes with participation in more than 100 trials. During 2004-2009 was advisor of the Regional Ministry of Environment of Generalitat de Catalunya, working with Water Management authorities to implement an alternative model of Water Management base in the principle of the “Nueva Cultura del Agua”. Taxonomist, interested in aquatic insects, mainly in non-biting midges.