“Fields are completely dry”; “No moisture left in soil”, says mayor
Alcoutim mayor Osvaldo Gonçalves has sent out a cry of alert: his area of the north eastern Algarve is literally drying out as news focus concentrates on ‘political crises’ in Lisbon, and whether or not the president of the Republic is going to talk to the country.
The real crisis is down here in the Algarve where fields are “completely dry”, where “there is no moisture left in the soil” and where communities are already drawing from water reserves that would normally be used in the summer.
The rural municipality of Alcoutim is the smallest and least populated in the Algarve – yet its mayor fears for the coming months, largely because of the water needed by subsistence farmers.
“We are bringing forward the consumption of (water) reserves, and perhaps endangering for the future some of these reserves, which will run out, whether at the level of aquifers, or at the level of animal feed, permanent meadows and spontaneous vegetation, which is currently dry”, he tells Lusa.
All of this spells “great difficulties” for the rest of the year.
Painting a vivid picture of Alcoutim’s landscape at the beginning of May, he said the effects of a winter without sufficient rainfall (after years of winters without sufficient rainfall) is that the fields now are “completely dry (…) there is no moisture in the soil”.
“I have some fruit trees, and this year I don’t have any fruit, because the heat itself – and I associate this with heat at blossom time – has killed all that”, he said.
Crops sown with a view to animal feed have not progressed – everything that was planted to ensure subsistence in the coming months “has not matured, or even sprouted”, he said.
Yet in coastal towns it is clear water is being used with gay abandon; in car washes, particularly. There are still no restrictions in place, even after IPMA has stressed it is time for them in view of weather forecasting for the coming months.