Worsening drought requires water restrictions in Algarve
Water restrictions are being implemented in the Algarve to address the worsening situation of drought in the region, Portugal’s Minister of Environment announced on Thursday.
Following a meeting with the drought monitoring committee, Duarte Cordeiro revealed that the focus was primarily on the eastern Algarve area.
At the Odeleite-Beliche dam, several measures will be implemented, including a 20% reduction in water allocation for agriculture, a 20% reduction in water usage for golf courses, and a 50% reduction for “precarious” golf courses and gardens (which have limited access to water), even in cases where reused water is used for irrigation.
“We have also decided to establish a task force dedicated to the Algarve region, led by the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA), the Directorate-General for Agriculture, and other entities from the Ministry of Environment and Agriculture, to review the water resource usage permits that have been granted,” the Minister of Environment announced during a press conference.
Duarte Cordeiro also said he will hold a meeting with the Association of Municipalities of the Algarve (AMAL) this Friday in which he will advise boroughs to adopt at least two measures: reducing irrigation of green spaces and eliminating equipment washing, “except in cases that affect public health.”
The Minister of Environment also said that a proposal to amend the Water Law is in the pipeline, with the goal being to “strengthen the legal framework for measures that need to be taken to limit water usage during droughts.”
Over one third of Portugal experiencing severe or extreme drought
Portugal’s worsening drought shows no signs of letting up, with summer just around the corner and little to no rainfall expected.
“Our country, especially in the month of May, experienced precipitation levels around 35% below average, and we currently have critical levels of soil moisture,” said Duarte Cordeiro, adding that the most affected regions are the Tagus Valley and the southern part of the country.
The minister added that 36% of Portugal is facing severe or extreme drought, while forecasts indicate that air temperatures will remain above average.
And while the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA) reports that the country’s water reservoir levels are better compared to the previous year – 79% compared to 65% – the news is not so positive regarding groundwater levels.
“When we look at groundwater levels, we identify very low levels, particularly in the Algarve and Alentejo regions,” the minister said.
He stressed however that Portugal’s situation differs significantly from Spain, as Portugal has 79% of water in its reservoirs, while Spain has only 48%.