Page last updated at 16:25 GMT, Tuesday, 21 July 2009 17:25 UK

Barcelona gets new water supply

Dried-up riverbed at Llosa del Cavall (file pic)
Catalonia has suffered repeated droughts in recent years

A desalination plant has opened near Barcelona - said to be the biggest of its type in Europe - to ease chronic water shortages.

A drought last year forced Barcelona to import drinking water by tanker. It was one of Spain's driest years on record.

The new plant at El Prat del Llobregat will provide 24% of the water consumed in the Barcelona area, officials say. It went into operation on Monday.

Two more desalination plants are being built in the Catalonia region.

The new plant near Barcelona will provide 200m litres (44m gallons) of drinking water daily for the city's 4.5 million people.

The head of the Catalan regional government, Jose Montilla, said the plant would lift the threat of emergency restrictions on water consumption in Barcelona.

The plant cost 230m euros (£198m) to build. It produces 45 litres of drinking water from each 100 litres of salt water.

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