Teresa Fernandes, spokesperson for regional water authority Águas do Algarve

Algarve breathes sigh of relief as rainfall helps replenish local dams

The Algarve can finally “breathe a sigh of relief” now that its dams, which last year came close to reaching dramatically low levels in the Eastern Algarve, have been partially replenished by the rain that has fallen in the last couple of months.

Teresa Fernandes, spokesperson for regional water authority Águas do Algarve, told us this week that there has been a “significant increase” in the region’s water reserves for public consumption thanks to the rainy weather.

“This leaves us more confident about the public supply of the region’s 16 boroughs not only with high-quality water, but enough quantities to meet many needs,” she told us.

AdA’s latest data shows that the region’s three main dams (Odelouca, Odeleite and Beliche) all have significantly higher reserves than they did last year.

On Friday (February 12), Odelouca was at 63.3% of its capacity (52.6% on the same day in 2020), while Odeleite was at 63.8% (40% in 2020). Meanwhile, Beliche has seen the biggest increase from 33.2% last year to 55.7%.

AdA’s data also shows Odelouca, Odeleite and Beliche have 78.45hm3 (cubic hectometers), 61.80hm3 and 21.65hm3 of “usable water”, respectively.

“Considering that the annual human consumption is of approximately 73hm3, the region can ‘breathe a sigh of relief’ for a while,” Fernandes told us.

However, while this is all good news, it does not mean that the region is ‘out of the woods’ yet.

“Specialists say that periods of drought will become increasingly more frequent due to climate change. We cannot forget this,” she told us.

“This is not a time to waste (water) but instead to use it efficiently. We should all be aware of the importance and value of water, and consequently of the need to use this resource which comes out of our tap sparingly, because it is not inexhaustible,” she added.

As the spokesperson pointed out, the issue is such a big concern that the Algarve’s ‘Water Efficiency Plan’ (Plano de Eficiência Hídrica do Algarve), which was created with the contribution of AdA, is currently up for public consultation and includes a series of proposals to help the region deal with the negative effects of climate change.

“We cannot ignore this problem which will have a very significant impact on the economy, on the well-being of populations and will lead to more pressure on the Algarve’s water bodies,” Fernandes concluded.

In October, the Odeleite and Beliche dams came very close to reaching historically low water levels.

Olhão Mayor and President of the Algarve Municipalities Association (AMAL), António Pina, even called the situation “dramatic” and said that it would become even worse if it did not rain enough in the coming months.

Luckily, the recent rainy weather has at least given the region some time to figure out how to handle increasingly more frequent periods of droughts.

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