Extreme drought forces water conservation measures in Algarve

Extreme drought forces water conservation measures in Algarve

The Algarve’s extreme drought has forced local councils to close municipal swimming pools in August (and possibly September) as part of series of measures approved last week to ‘save water’.

AMAL, the association which brings together the Algarve’s 16 local councils, has also agreed to turn off water fountains, reduce irrigation, and introduce new native species who do not need to be watered so frequently.

Some of these measures are already in place, while others are due to be introduced in the coming weeks.

The warning coming from AMAL is that rain is very badly needed, and that if it continues to rain as little as it did this past year, the Algarve could be “in serious trouble”.

“If the next water year is the same as the last, water may start to run short in the taps of the Algarvian people by October 2023,” explained AMAL boss António Pina said.

“We are expecting a serious problem in the Algarve,” he said, adding that the region’s population will “double” in the coming weeks which will only “aggravate the problem further”.

Some boroughs have decided to implement measures earlier than expected.

In Loulé, the municipal pool has already been closed in order to save enough water to “supply 40 houses” for one month, mayor Vítor Aleixo told Renascença radio.

Said Aleixo, the region’s main dams are reaching their redline and they are only expected to keep seeing their water levels decrease.

Portimão Council has also announced the closure of its beach showers due to the “growing need to ensure water is used in a responsible and strictly necessary way.”

Hopes are that these measures will also act as eye-openers to the population.

“We believe that these measures, such as closing pools but also letting green spaces dry up, will transform the urban landscape and we hope that will be a wake-up call,” Pina told Renascença.

“Public (water) consumption in the last two months compared to 2019, the best tourist year ever, has increased 15%. We need measures which are not just effective in terms of saving water, but which are also symbolic,” he said.

Meanwhile, AMAL guarantees that it is working with local councils, municipal companies and concession companies in charge of water distribution and management to invest in the reduction of water losses and in renovation of infrastructure.
By Michael Bruxo