By: CECÍLIA PIRES
TEN FAMILIES in the Algarve are to participate in a pioneer water saving programme. The project is promoted by Águas do Algarve, the regional water supplier, and the environmental association Quercus, and aims to help consumers to stop wasting water by controlling the quantities used at home.
It is also due to start in Lisbon and Porto with the involvement of the local water companies.
Several taps at each family house will be monitored through a device designed by investigators at the Coimbra University.
The project was officially launched on Monday to mark National Water Day. This day has gained importance over the years as the water resources in the Algarve region have drastically decreased in recent years.
The education of the younger generation is also one strategy being used more often by local authorities to try to change the consumer’s attitude towards environmental issues. Tavira Câmara, for example, celebrated the day by involving the local schools. Younger students made and distributed flyers with appeals for better water consumption habits. This continues until the weekend.
However, national authorities fear that tougher measures are necessary, taking into consideration the conclusions of a report released last week by the European Union.
The document shows Portugal as being one of the critical countries causing the over exploitation of watersheds in the EU region. According to the report, nine of the most used watersheds are located in Portugal.
The Algarve region is also mentioned in the document, with the Guadiana River on the border with Spain listed in 16th position among the 33 most exploited watersheds in Europe. The remaining Portuguese rivers are the Sado and Tejo, near Lisbon, and the Ave, Vouga, Douro and Minho in the north of Portugal.
The solution, according to the EU experts, relies on better management of the watersheds, higher prices for water, less pressure from tourism, less public and private waste and better practices in the consumer industry.
But the need for better water management is a problem affecting other species as well. Using the October 1 celebrations as an opportunity to make people aware of threatened river species, Liga para a Protecção da Natureza (LPN), an environmental non-profit organisation, criticised the government’s intention of building 10 new dams by 2020, in an effort to increase the country’s energy production by more than 1.100 megawatts.
The national programme for the new dams has an estimated cost of 1.140 million euros and aims to put Portugal among the leading countries with more alternative energies, immediately after Sweden and Austria.
However, the LPN says the plan is exaggerating the number of dams, goes against the EU policies on water and has worrying consequences on the long term survival of some species, including humans.
The three main disadvantages pointed out by the environmental organisation are the risk of increasing pollution, the destruction of the already threatened species of river fish and coastal erosion. It points out that one of the rivers’ roles is to transport sand and preserve the coast lines.
If you would like to know more about the national water authority, please visit:http://www.inag.pt/index.htm. If you would like to know more about LPN and Quercus, please visit: http://www.lpn.pt/#70-PT and http://www.quercus.pt/scid/webquercus/. These websites are in Portuguese only.
Good practices for better water consumption
Turn off all the taps at home before leaving
Turn off taps while brushing teeth or shaving
Take short showers
Use the washing
Water your garden
early in the morning
or at night
Turn off taps while washing your car
Save energy, that will save water too
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