March 14, 2006

Spain’s water reserves rise to 52.5 pct of capacity

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's water reserves have risen almost
two percentage points in the last week, thanks to heavy rain
and snow across the country, and now stand at 52.5 percent of
capacity, the Environment Ministry said on Tuesday.

The increase eases the danger of further water restrictions
for consumers in the summer but does not mean the drought that
began in 2004 is over.

Rainfall in the current hydrological year, which runs from
October 1, is still less than normal and reserves are
substantially below average for the last decade.

Reserves in lakes and rivers have risen almost 1,000 cubic
hectolitres in a week to just short of 28,000 cubic
hectolitres, ministry data show.

That is some 9 percent less than the same time last year
and 21 percent less than the average over the last 10 years.

A grain trader in Seville said the recent rain would not
help farmers facing decisions on what to plant.

"There's still no water for irrigation," he said.

Agricultural supplies have been restricted in much of
Spain's dry center and south as local authorities try to
guarantee households' taps will not run dry.