Environmentalists demand to be heard over Algarve’s water shortage crisis

Eight environmental associations and NGOs in the Algarve have released a joint statement urging the government to involve them in talks about how to solve the region’s chronic water shortage.

The statement is signed by A Rocha, Água é Vida, Almargem, CIVIS, Faro 1540, Global Faro, Quercus and Regenarte, all of which lament that the government has been discussing the issue without consulting other organisations and citizens.

“Water availability is a long-standing problem in the Algarve which is only expected to worsen in the future due to climate change. However, in recent years, it has become an extremely serious situation which we can no longer postpone finding a solution for,” the entities say in a joint statement.

As the entities point out, the government has announced that “millions of euros will be coming the Algarve’s way in the next five years, part of which will be used to tackle this issue”.

The newly-formed platform – Plataforma Água Sustentável – claims that the only time that regional entities were consulted was to create the Intermunicipal Plan to Adapt to Climate Change (PIAAC).

Since then, however, the proposals they put forward have “not been taken into account” or have been put aside to make room for others which “were not considered as effective”.

The platform also says that citizens and environmental associations and NGOs were not consulted when creating the Algarve’s new water efficiency plan (PREHA) and that even some relevant State institutions – such as the Institute of Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA) and the Institute of Nature and Forest Conservation (ICNF) – were left out of the decision-making process.

Furthermore, they say the matter is being dealt with “as if it were just an economic problem” and that data referring to water consumption has not been revealed to the public, such as the fact that “30% of the public water network supply is lost” and that “agriculture consumes the largest amount of water from the network (60%) and from underground aquifers (75%).

In a nutshell, the group has joined forces to discuss possible solutions together and demand transparency from the government as well as urgent solutions.
The plan is also to inform citizens about the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed solutions.

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