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Sustainability Matters: Water - every drop counts

As World Water Day approaches, IbizaPreservation explains the shortages facing the island and what we can all do to help save this precious resource

Photo by Damien Guéras for Alianza por el Agua

With an average of around 300 days of sunshine per year, even in winter Ibiza’s largely warm and pleasant environs offer a pleasant contrast to the much greyer and chillier climes of northern Europe.

The flip side to this, of course, is that the island suffers from a distinct lack of rainfall. The annual total for Ibiza in 2023 was 263mm, about a fifth of the UK average. Perfect conditions for sun-seeking holidaymakers, but when you consider that there are no lakes or other significant surface water reserves on the island, it all makes for one very dry landmass.

Indeed, satellite photos released recently by Spain’s National Geographic Institute revealed just how parched Ibiza’s landscape was at the start of February this year, compared with one year previously, leading to increased concerns about the prospect of a prolonged drought by the time the summer comes around.

Running on empty

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, according to data analysed by IbizaPreservation’s Sustainability Observatory, in 2022 half of them were considered to be at risk or in a bad state. What’s more, as of last month, the island’s groundwater reserves were down to just 39% of their capacity.

The island now has three desalination plants, which provide good-quality drinking water. While most of our tap 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. 

Cutting consumption

Short of doing a weekly rain dance, you may wonder what on earth you can do to help a situation that seems so beyond our individual control. But we can all do our bit by trying to save water wherever possible.

In recent years, the consumption of water in Ibiza has been almost double the target set by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals of 100 litres per person per day. While some of that is accounted for by leaks in the network, which is in dire need of investment and modernisation, a lot of that is down to our own habits.

As such, the local Water Alliance, of which we at IbizaPreservation are members, runs an annual “Enjoy the Island, Save Water” campaign targeting the tourism sector.

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 dishwasher 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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