The price of water in the Algarve is due to increase to cover the costs of two projects which aim to improve the region’s water efficiency.
The news was confirmed by the environment minister on Tuesday during an online seminar to discuss water efficiency measures included in Portugal’s Plan for Recovery and Resilience.
However, the price hike is only expected to be introduced from 2026 onwards, the president of the Algarve Municipalities Association (AMAL), António Pina, said after the news started to spread.
He added that the increase will likely be of “only a few cents”.
Indeed, the minister had confirmed the increase wouldn’t be “very significant”.
The two projects involve a €55 million investment in the diversion of water from the Guadiana River to the Odeleite dam, and a €65 million investment in the construction of desalination plants.
“We have to look at (these projects) as insurance,” said environment minister João Pedro Matos Fernandes, adding that desalination must be studied very carefully as it will have an “environmental impact”.
But the water pricing burden won’t fall solely on the shoulders of the average consumer.
The minister guaranteed that all sectors will be pitching in, from agriculture to golf, which account for much of the water consumed in the Algarve.
The system that will be used to calculate the increase in water charges is also under discussion, he added.
Added Matos Fernandes, the government’s promise for the coming years will not be to “give more water to the Algarve” but instead to vow that “the Algarve does not go with less water”.
Meanwhile, António Pina has said that “we all have to realise that water is a scarce commodity and that the mechanisms used to collect and store it represent costs that make consumption more expensive.”
Explaining that agriculture and golf account for 60% and 6%, respectively, of all water consumed in the Algarve, he said that the increase will be calculated based on the amount each one consumes.
He reiterated, nonetheless, that the increases will not be significant: “We’re talking about a few cents.”
PSD dubs water price hike “absurd”
Algarve MPs for opposition party PSD have slammed the “absurd” decision to increase water charges in the Algarve.
According to the PSD MPs, the region is facing its “worst crisis in recent memory” and “increasing water prices for consumers and companies will only serve to make it less competitive”.
Also, they said, an emergency plan that had been announced specifically for the Algarve in July has been “abandoned” and concluded: “We don’t find it reasonable that the Algarve, the region most affected by the crisis, only receives 1.7% of the ‘bazooka’ when it represents almost 5% of the national economy and population.”