Farmers in the north-eastern Algarve want a new dam to be built in the area to help prevent the serious problems that arise during long periods of drought like the one Portugal is currently experiencing.
If not, the area may be at risk of turning into a “desert”.
As they explain, the situation is dire. Farmers don’t have enough water for their crops and pastures for their livestock have all but disappeared.
The situation is even worse in boroughs like Alcoutim and Castro Marim where the lack of vegetation can be seen for several kilometres.
“That is why a dam needs to be built with a link to the Odeleite dam which could be used for human consumption but would also be used by farmers for irrigation,” said Valter Luz, president of the association of north-eastern Algarve producers, Cumeadas.
Luz told Lusa news agency that only a dam will truly solve the problem.
Measures like transporting water to affected communities “only minimise” what he calls a “recurring problem”.
Says Luz, the north-eastern Algarve has been “forgotten” in recent years by politicians who “need to look at what is happening and do something before the whole area turns into a desert”.
He added that the issues caused by droughts have been worsening since 2013 and that the state has to convince farmers that they will be able to continue working in agriculture with the guarantee that they will have water at their disposal.
The idea is backed by Alcoutim mayor Osvaldo Gonçalves, who agrees that the construction of a dam is the “best solution” to solve these water shortages.
Celso Teixeira, a beekeeper and owner of around 100 cattle, confirmed he has had difficulty finding food for his animals due to the lack of vegetation.
“My livestock has to be fed with hay and rations, which makes it much more expensive,” he explained.
In other years, the Vascão stream would already be filled with water by this time of year but, according to Teixeira, it has been “completely dry since summer”.