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Catalonia will build 1,600 swimming pools this year despite the drought emergency

2024-02-25T21:32:48.575Z

Highlights: Catalonia will build 1,600 swimming pools this year despite the drought emergency. Mayors receive requests for swimming pool construction licenses, but warn that they cannot be filled with water due to restrictions. The sector's employers' association, the Spanish Association of Swimming Pool Sector Professionals (Asofap) defend "the social function" of swimming pools. The granting of licenses is mandatory for urban planning areas if the projects comply with the regulations, a fact that causes annoyance to mayors.


Mayors receive requests for swimming pool construction licenses, but warn that they cannot be filled with water due to restrictions


In the midst of a historic drought, in Emergency I phase of the restrictions plan, when there is not a day that does not talk about the summer that awaits us and the prohibition on filling (or refilling) swimming pools, Catalan town councils continue to receive applications for licenses to build new facilities.

The one from Barcelona, ​​68 last year.

The one in Matadepera serves between 60 and 70 each year and, so far this year, 25 license requests;

Tiana, an average of 13 a year;

Palafrugell, 183 since 2021, 61 per year;

Begur 23 last year.

And in Sitges they respond that “all” the licenses for new houses ask for a pool: last year there were 62 for single-family homes and seven community pools that are now under construction.

We would have to ask the more than 900 Catalan town councils to know the count for this exceptional year, but there is a shortcut: the sector's employers' association, the Spanish Association of Swimming Pool Sector Professionals (Asofap).

This year, they respond, they plan to build

only

1,600, far from the 9,000 annually in recent years.

It is 82% less than in a normal year.

Asofap defends "the social function" of swimming pools and remembers that current technology allows you not to have to switch to water, while at the same time committed to reporting anyone who fails to comply.

The granting of licenses is mandatory for urban planning areas if the projects comply with the regulations, a fact that causes annoyance to mayors, who warn applicants that they can build them, but not fill them with water.

The councilors also say that there are tips from neighbors who see others filling swimming pools;

Even some of those who speak in this report suspect that newly built pools have already been filled in an emergency.

They all regret that their inspection capacity is limited due to the restrictions.

In Matadepera, with water consumption that in December reached 367 liters per person per day (much higher than the 200 liters allowed in an emergency), the mayor, Guillem Montagut, offers three reflections: “On the one hand, you take your hands at the forefront of licenses that must be granted if they comply with urban planning regulations;

On the other hand, you hope that the neighbor is responsible and does not fill it, because in the current situation it is an ecological crime;

and finally, you think that, if it were in our hands, we would manage it differently.”

The mayor of Tiana, Isaac Salvatierra, points out that they will also begin to “warn on the license that the regulation prohibits filling them.”

More information

Alert in Barcelona's urban gardens regarding the prohibition on watering: “We need a minimum of water”

The two mayors point out the paradox of being responsible for granting licenses and, at the same time, for enforcing the drought emergency.

“Compliance with the decree to reduce consumption is very complicated.

The Catalan Water Agency (ACA) sanctions the town councils, and they sanction the neighbors, but the difficulties of inspection and sanctions make it complex,” regrets Salvatierra.

In Tiana, he assures, municipal services have strictly reduced spending to comply: "We have no more room for improvement and we have to trust everything to information campaigns."

Tiana is processing the first sanction for the use of an automatic irrigation system in a single-family home thanks to citizen collaboration and evidence collected over several days.

Chalets with pool under construction in Sitges, next to the sign that announces them, this week.Albert Garcia (Albert Garcia)

In Palafrugell, the mayor, Juli Fernández, announced on Friday that, after studying it with his legal services, he will suspend the granting of licenses to build swimming pools for one year.

Until now, he warned on the licenses that they cannot be filled.

“I understand that the owner who wants to build a house with a pool finds it cheaper to do everything at once, but we are legally analyzing whether it would be possible to only give a license for the house and postpone the one for the pool to another state of the drought,” explained this week before making the decision on the moratorium, reports

Marta Rodríguez

.

Villas under construction with the pool ready and full

Meanwhile, there are those who do not wait until the house is finished to fill the pool.

It happens in luxury villas that are being built in Can Robert, in Sitges: the two floors and the roof of the building have barely been raised, but in the garden the water is already filling the sink and it looks turquoise.

Neither the City Council, nor the construction company, nor the one selling one of the houses can answer how it could be that the pool is full.

Regarding the licenses, sources from the council also point out that "if they comply with the regulations, it is mandatory to grant them."

In addition, they explain that they have created a study commission to improve water management in extreme situations due to drought and that "the water supply regulations" will be modified to be able to fine "users who exceed the use of water."

From the association of the swimming pool sector, its president, Pedro Arrébola, provides a quick snapshot of the sector in Spain: it is the third world power, with 1.5 million swimming pools (200,000 in Catalonia), only behind the United States and from France.

There are 2,000 companies (650 in Catalonia) including manufacturers, builders and maintenance, which employ 40,000 people.

They will resent if the pools cannot be filled and used, because they will not need maintenance, alert.

The drought, Arrébola adds, has affected the sector in Catalonia: if 8% of Spanish owners of villas without a pool say that they would not build one now, the percentage rises to 20% in the case of Catalonia.

Transferred to the market study carried out by Asofap at the beginning of the year, “the forecast for the construction of swimming pools in Catalonia in 2024 will be only 1,600, which will not be able to be filled.”

These figures are far from the 9,000 new ones in recent years, which amount to 28,000 a year in Spain.

“We are worried about the impact,” Arrébola acknowledges, both in terms of construction and maintenance.

Arrébola recalls that the sector has done its homework on “sustainability and energy” issues and that the swimming pools “have a very efficient use of water, they are never emptied, they are refilled” from what is lost through evaporation, with their use or in the debugging process.

He also defends that the situation has turned them into climatic refuges and emphasizes that the majority of pool users do not have one at home, they bathe in community or public pools.

“In Spain there are 1.5 million swimming pools, of which 1.3 are in residences, but the rest of the citizens also swim,” he summarizes.

Asofap asks administrations like the Generalitat to listen to them: “We are the sector, but we understand reality and ask for flexibility.”

Issues, for example, such as “buying water in places where there is excess.”

And one last piece of information that Arrébola provides: "If you compare the storage capacity of all the reservoirs in Spain and that of all the swimming pools, they would only need 0.15% of the total water."

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Source: elparis

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