Dry Spanish reservoirs hit rock-bottom in drought

STORY: This medieval bridge was flooded in the fifties to create a reservoir in central Spain. Now it's exposed again and sheep shelter there from the relentless sun.

A severe drought has left the Cijara reservoir more than 80% empty.

July was the hottest month in Spain since at least 1961. As of early August, Spanish reservoirs were at 40% capacity on average, official data shows.

Spanish Energy Minister Teresa Ribera said the droughts were causing wildfires as well.

“This is a particularly dry year, a very complicated year that confirms what climate change scenarios have been making evident for a very long time in countries where we live in a transitional climate - with periods of extended drought sometimes combined with torrential rains and floods stretched over that same hydrological year. This is dramatic.”

At the Buendia reservoir east of Madrid, the ruins of a village and bathhouses have reappeared, caked in dried mud.

Climate change has left parts of the Iberian peninsula at their driest in 1,200 years, and winter rains are expected to diminish further, a study published last month by the Nature Geoscience journal showed.

In the southern region of Andalusia, one of Europe's hottest and driest, paddle-boats and waterslides lie abandoned on the cracked bed of Vinuela reservoir.

They're remnants of a rental business gone with the water, now at a critical level of 13%.

Francisco Bazaga owns a neighboring restaurant and fears a similar fate.

“The situation is quite dramatic in that it's been several years without rain and we're hitting rock bottom. If it doesn't rain, unless they find some alternative water supply, the future is very, very dark.”

The dry, hot weather will likely continue into the autumn, Spain's meteorological service said in a recent report, putting further strain on Europe's largest network of dammed reservoirs.