Ghost town emerges in Spain as drought empties reservoir | Spain

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A ghost town that emerged as drought nearly drained a dam on the Spanish-Portuguese border draws crowds of tourists with its eerie gray ruins.

With the reservoir at 15% capacity, details of a frozen life in 1992, when the village of Aceredo in Spain’s northwest region of Galicia was flooded to create the Alto Lindoso reservoir, are at newly revealed.

“It’s like watching a movie. I have a feeling of sadness,” said Maximino Pérez Romero, a 65-year-old retiree from La Coruña. “My feeling is that’s what’s going to happen over the years because of the drought and all that, with climate change.”

A view from inside a house in Aceredo. Photograph: Miguel Vidal/Reuters

Walking on the muddy ground cracked by drought in some places, visitors found partially collapsed roofs, bricks and wood debris that once made up doors or beams, and even a drinking fountain with water still dripping from a rusty pipe.

Crates containing empty beer bottles were stacked near what was once a cafe, and an old, half-destroyed car rusted near a stone wall. Drone footage showed the abandoned buildings.

María del Carmen Yañez, mayor of the larger council of Lobios, of which Aceredo is a part, blamed the situation on the lack of rain in recent months, particularly in January, but also on what she described as “pretty aggressive exploitation ” by the Portuguese Electricity Utility. EDP, which manages the reservoir.

On February 1, the Portuguese government ordered six dams, including Alto Lindoso, to almost stop using water for power generation and irrigation, due to worsening drought.

Contacted by Reuters, EDP had no immediate comment.

Aceredo.
Aceredo. Photograph: Miguel Vidal/Reuters

Questions about tank durability are not new. Last year several Spanish villages complained about how power utilities used them after a rapid drawdown from a lake near Iberdrola in western Spain. The company said it was following the rules.

Environment Ministry data shows Spain’s reservoirs are at 44% capacity, well below the average of around 61% over the past decade, but still above the levels recorded during a 2018 drought. A ministry source said drought indicators showed potential worsening in the coming weeks, but had yet to detect a widespread problem across the country.

José Álvarez, a former construction worker from Lobios, said he felt a mixture of nostalgia and fatalism as he recalled his days working in Aceredo. “It’s terrible, but that’s the way it is. It’s life. Some die and some live,” he said.

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