Tenerife declares a drought emergency after one of the 'driest winters in recent history'

The island is facing months or possibly years of critical water scarcity, experts say.
The island is facing months or possibly years of critical water scarcity, experts say. Copyright Andreas M
Copyright Andreas M
By Rebecca Ann Hughes
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Some areas have introduced water restrictions including a ban on filling swimming pools and using drinking water for irrigation.


Officials in Tenerife declared a drought emergency on Friday (1 March). Water restrictions have also been introduced in some areas with the government calling an emergency meeting to discuss rolling them out across the island. 

Parts of Spain and the Canary Islands are experiencing major drought. President of the Tenerife government Rosa Dávila said it has been one of the “driest winters in recent history” for the island.

The island is facing months or possibly years of critical water scarcity, experts say.

Water restrictions have been introduced in some areas

Just a few municipalities, including Fasnia and Arico, have so far specified restrictions on water use. 

The situation in Fasnia, its council says, has been made worse by the weather conditions the Canary Islands have been facing for years, further exacerbated by an unusually dry autumn and winter. 

Mayor Luis Javier Gonzalez Delgado signed an order prohibiting the use of drinking water for filling swimming pools, ponds, reservoirs or tanks, cleaning buildings, washing vehicles, or using showers on the beach in these areas. 

"These are measures that the government group adopts from a position of responsibility, it is not a matter that has to do with good or bad management, but with the worsening of an anomalous meteorological situation," the Mayor told Spanish newspaper Diario de Avisos,

Measures are likely to be put in place across the island soon with authorities from the government and local councils set to meet to discuss on 11 March. 

Tenerife experiences one of the driest winters in history

Midland areas of Tenerife are experiencing an extreme and prolonged drought with severe water shortages that could continue for months or even years, according to technical reports.

Despite being one of the greener Canary Islands, Tenerife has suffered a critical lack of rain in what should be its wetter winter months - especially in northern areas.

In recent years, rainfall has also decreased by between 15 and 40 per cent. Water evaporation has increased by between 10 and 25 per cent in the island’s agricultural midlands due to higher temperatures.

This January recorded average temperatures of 20.9C making it the hottest on the island for 60 years.

Tenerife declares a drought emergency

The extreme conditions have forced the local government to take action now in order to guarantee a water supply for the dry summer months.

Local reports say that as of 1 February, reservoirs were at 34.6 per cent capacity compared to 52 per cent at the same time last year.

Dávila said “ensuring the water supply for citizens and for Tenerife’s countryside is an essential issue that cannot have political preferences.”

Vice President Lope Afonso also warned that the drought would have “serious consequences for the agricultural sector.”

Alongside the drought emergency and restrictions, the Tenerife Island Water Council and the Ministry of Tourism are planning to launch public information campaigns.

These will be targeted at residents, but also at tourists and visitors, underscoring the importance of responsible water usage.


Drought and extreme heat provoked wildfires that devastated swathes of the island’s forests in August 2023.

Tenerife struggles with water shortages

Tenerife is also looking at ways to combat water scarcity including increasing the capacity of water treatment and desalination plants to boost the supply for agriculture and homes.

The island has no rivers and very few dams so it depends on underground sources for 80 per cent of its supply.

Other areas of Spain are also struggling with water shortages. Authorities in Catalonia declared a drought emergency in Barcelona on 1 February.

The region of Andalusia will restrict water use in summer in some cities including Seville and Cordoba unless the area sees “at least 30 days of rain in a row,” according to the regional president.

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