Marseilles has agreed in principle to provide water relief to Barcelona, which is suffering from severe drought. Under an agreement between la Société des eaux de Marseille (SEM) and Aquas de Barcelona, starting from May a fleet of seven tankers with a capacity of more than 28,000 cubic metres each will transport water to the Catalan capital and its 4.5 million residents – but the paradox is that the water will be sourced from Provence, itself the driest region in France. Reserves in Catalonia are currently 22 percent below the normal average and the government was forced to seek emergency supplies from France after an unusually dry winter
The French water will be sourced from untreated water taken from the Canal de Provence which will be transported from Marseilles to a treatment plant in Barcelona. In addition, drinking water from the Marseilles network will be directly injected into the Catalan water supply. This represents a mere 7-8 percent of the needs of the city, but it will be a temporary stop gap over the summer when the city’s population doubles with the arrival of tourists. A new water desalination plant is in the works and expected to become operational at the end of 2009.