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Sustainability Matters – August 2020

In the hottest month of the year, IbizaPreservation explains the island’s water woes and what we can all do to help save this precious commodity

Photo by Damien Guéras for Alianza por el Agua

August is always a scorcher in Ibiza and this year is no exception. Most days the mercury hits at least 30 degrees and – the odd, brief thunderstorm aside – usually there's barely a cloud in the sky. Perfect conditions for sun-seeking holidaymakers, but the influx of tourists puts our island's scant water resources under enormous strain. It may seem hard to believe, but for a place surrounded by water, there's precious little of it available.

Even outside of the summer months, Ibiza gets typical Mediterranean weather, with fairly little rain. The average annual rainfall here is just 450mm; many UK cities get more than double that. Add to that the fact there are no lakes or other significant surface water reserves on the island, and you get one very dry landmass.

Running on empty

In fact, until a few years ago, Ibiza was entirely reliant on a couple of dozen aquifers (natural underground reservoirs) for its entire water supply. That may once have been enough to cater to the island's residents, but it is far from sufficient to cope with the millions of visitors who come here, almost all of them in the summer months. Over time, the aquifers have become overused and depleted and, what's more, more than half of them are now contaminated with sea water.

Luckily, the island now has three desalination plants, which provide good quality drinking water. While most of our fresh water comes from those these days, the network continues to draw from the worn-out, salinated aquifers, particularly in the summer months when demand is higher. With no “give” in the system, the island regularly suffers from drought.

Cutting consumption

As founders and members of the local Water Alliance, we at IbizaPreservation are actively campaigning for better management of the island's resources. Short of doing a weekly rain dance, you may wonder what on earth you can do to help a situation that seems so beyond individual control. But we can all do our bit by trying to save water wherever possible.

A recent study by our data project, the Sustainability Observatory, revealed that water consumption per person in Ibiza was double that of Barcelona last year, at around 200 litres per day. While some of that is accounted for by leaks in the network, which in spite of recent improvements is still in need of modernisation, it's still a long way off meeting the UN's target of 100 litres per person per day by 2030.

Ten ways to save water

Whether you're a visitor or a resident, here are ten easy ways to reduce your water consumption:

  1. Turn the tap off while you are washing your hands, brushing your teeth or shaving.
  2. Ditto when you are doing the washing up. Fill the sink with water, soap and scrub the dishes with the water off and then rinse them off in one go afterwards. Also remember that a dishwater uses less water than washing by hand, if you put a full load on.
  3. Save up your laundry until you have a full load. If you have to wash a small amount, select the Half Load setting on your washing machine, if there is one.
  4. If you're staying in a hotel, hang your towels up after you've used them, so that they don't get taken away to be washed on a daily basis.
  5. Showers are better than baths. Keep them to once a day and a maximum of 5 minutes!
  6. Reduce the water pressure on your shower and, if possible, turn it off while you are scrubbing yourself or shampooing your hair.
  7. When using the toilet, remember the classic Aussie adage, “If it's brown, flush it down; if it's yellow, let it mellow”. We'll save you the detailed explanation!
  8. Recycle water wherever possible e.g. wash your fruit and veg in a bowl and then re-use it to water the plants.
  9. If you have a garden, try to plant native varieties of trees and shrubs, which use less water than some of the more “fashionable”, tropical types.
  10. If you have a villa with a swimming pool, try to cover it when it's not in use. Around 55 litres a day can be lost through evaporation in warm weather.

You can find more solutions like this on our special webpage. Each one may only feel like a drop in the ocean, but, taken together, these measures can add up to a saving of as much as 50 litres of water per day. If we can replicate that among all our residents and visitors, it quickly starts to make a big difference, without lessening our enjoyment of the island. So let's all do our bit to use our water wisely and help conserve this vital resource!

You can find out more about IbizaPreservation and donate towards their work by going to their website: You can also follow them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

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