It has never happened before: a situation of drought where an entire municipality has to have lorryloads of water bussed in every day.
This is what has had to start happening in Viseu, in a €500,000 operation to meet demand.
The last rains were only enough for “two hours of consumption”, environment minister João Pedro Matos Fernandes told reporters, and the only way forwards now is to bus water in to meet demand, at the same time moderating water usage as much as possible.
Rain meantime is forecast, for the whole country by the end of the week. But as the minister stressed: “No one can delude themselves into thinking that the problems will go away if we have two or three days of rain”.
The situation of drought from north to south has become “worrying”, affirms Matos Fernandes – a man with a gift for the ability to downplay (click here).
It has certainly become worrying enough for the government to adopt 26 measures to reduce consumption, and “create support for farmers”, adds tabloid Correio da Manhã.
The measures were confirmed on Wednesday, and include turning off municipal fountains (when not working on closed circuit mechanisms), restricting irrigation in public spaces, trying to advise local populations not to wash cars, fill up swimming pools, water gardens etc.) and not issuing licences for any new boreholes.
Some boroughs are considering closing public swimming pools, while others have issued specific prohibitions on green space irrigation.
In Lisbon, Cardinal Patriarch Manuel Clemente has actually ordered priests to “include a prayer for water” in upcoming Masses, while in the Alentejo fears are for next year’s cork harvest.
The drought could affect the thickness (of the cork), which will consequently reduce its value.
Say reports, cork oaks are already under attack from a fungal disease, thus this lack of water has added to tree mortality rates.