Spain's worst drought in decades forced the proud city of Barcelona to start shipping in drinking water Tuesday, an unprecedented step that business leaders bemoan as a public relations nightmare for one of Europe's top tourist destinations.
A Panamanian-flagged tanker loaded with water docked in Spain's second-largest city, launching a mission by an emergency, six-vessel flotilla scheduled to operate for at least three months.
Tuesday's scene was humbling for Catalonia, the capital of which is Barcelona, with more than 100 journalists crowded at the dock to record the water delivery.
The region likes to say it stands out from the rest of Spain for its efficiency and economic might. But it has been among the regions hardest hit by Spain's worst springtime drought since record-keeping began 60 years ago...
The crisis is the latest in a string of embarrassments for Catalonia. Last year sink holes delayed construction of a high-speed rail line from Madrid to Barcelona, and other engineering problems with it shut down commuter rail lines for days. In July, a blackout left 350,000 people in Barcelona without power for three days.
Now Catalonia is buying extra water, even from France; some of the emergency ships will come from Marseille.
They're not going to like this one bit.