Reservoir capacities are said to now be down to 32%. | Pau Figuerola

The regional environment minister, Vicenç Vidal, said today that the situation with aquifers has worsened because of the lack of rain and the tourist season. Palma, added Vidal, has become one of a total of 27 municipalities which are now on drought alert. The town hall's drought committee has met this week and measures to be adopted will include increased use of recycled water for purposes such as street cleaning.

Of the municipalities affected, there is a Palma "unit", which is made up of Alaro, Andratx, Binissalem, Calvia, Consell, Lloseta, Llubi, Marratxi, Muro, Sencelles, Sineu and Palma itself, and all of these municipalities are on drought alert. There are other municipalities in the Pla (plain) of Majorca in a similar situation as well as in the north.

The current available water resources across the Balearics as a whole are 41%, three per cent lower than was the case in July. Minorca is best off with 49%, while Ibiza is down to 32%. The Majorca and Formentera figures are both 41%.

Vidal said that the situation does not imply that there will be cuts to supplies, but in order to avoid there being cuts, all administrations need to work together.

The director-general for water resources at the ministry, Joana Garau, outlined the strategic plan to tackle the drought. This includes a revision of the water resources plan, the increase in availability of unconventional resources, the management of conventional ones and demand management.

Garau distinguished between immediate measures, such as general awareness campaigns, those in the medium term (one to three years), such as water treatment, and ones for the longer term, e.g. new infrastructure.

A further measure that the ministry is looking at is a review of water charges by which responsible use will be rewarded and excessive use penalised. There is also a need to recoup costs, as Vidal observed that alternative sources of water and desalinated supply attract their additional costs. Progressive tariffs, he said, will be needed as a response to excessive consumption.

The full list of municipalities on drought alert:
Alaro, Alcudia, Andratx, Ariany, Binissalem, Buger, Calvia, Campanet, Campos, Consell, Lloseta, Llubi, Maria de la Salut, Marratxi, Montuiri, Muro, Palma, Petra, Pollensa, Porreres, Sa Pobla, Sant Joan, Santa Margalida, Sencelles, Ses Salines, Sineu, Vilafranca.