For months, residents of L’Espluga de Francoli have been saving water in bottles and foregoing showers to cope with long hours of daily water rationing as northeastern Spain suffers one of its worst droughts in decades. While this small Catalan town has suffered supply problems for years due to the depleted state of its water table, the current drought has made things worse. Every night between 10:00 pm and 7:00 am, domestic water supplies are switched off in this town of 3,600 residents, which lies 100 kilometres (60 miles) west of Barcelona. “We keep water in bottles so we can brush our teeth and wash our faces in the morning,” said Maria Gonzalez, a 24-year-old nursing assistant. “At night, we either shower at work or at the gym or else we heat water in pans (to wash at home), like in the olden days,” she said. Three times a week, a tanker truck spends hours ferrying in water to top up L’Espluga’s municipal water supplies in a region where the aquifers have been depleted by months of drought. “Climate change.. has taken hold very quickly over the past two or three years,” says Xavier Rosell, who is responsible for environmental issues and municipal services in the area. The effects are being felt across Spain’s wealthy northeastern region of 7.7 million people after 32 months of drought which has seen its reservoir capacity plummet. The lack of rainfall — which has been particularly bad in Barcelona where restrictions are in place — has left the reservoirs at just 26 percent capacity, regional figures showed. “At this point, it’s the worst problem we’re facing,” said Catalan leader Pere Aragones, lamenting one of “the worst droughts in 50 years”. Last summer, falling water levels at Sau reservoir exposed the ruins of an 11th-century church in the usually submerged village of Sant Roma de Sau, which was flooded in the 1960s when a nearby dam was built. With levels critically low in Sau, the authorities last month began an emergency transfer of its remaining reserves to a neighbouring reservoir to preserve the water quality. It’s not the first severe water shortage in the region — the last one was between 2004 to 2008 — but such episodes are becoming more intense. “The droughts caused by climate change are getting worse,” said Narcis Prat, a retired Barcelona University ecology professor, pointing to warmer temperatures causing more water evaporation.