March rainfall fails to improve levels at Algarve dams

University researcher warns region uses more water than it has

March rainfall in the Algarve was insufficient to reverse the low levels of water at the Algarve’s six dams and attenuate the region’s chronic water shortage.

So said University of Algarve faculty member and researcher Nuno de Santos Loureiro in an article for Barlavento newspaper.

“In fact, a comparison between the last five hydrological years and the current one justifies the apprehension. On average, in the last five hydrological years (2016/17 to 2020/21), the six dams registered between the start of October and end of March a gain of water storage of around 74.8 million cubic metres,” he says.

“During the present hydrological year, (the dams) have registered a negative balance of 3.2 million cubic metres,” Loureiro added, explaining this means that the amount of water available has decreased compared to October 2021.

The researcher explains that the situation is worse in the Western Algarve (Barlavento) than the Eastern Algarve (Sotavento), as the Odelouca dam – the main public supplier in the Western Algarve – has seen its water levels decrease, while the Odeleite and Beliche dams have a positive balance, albeit below the average of the last five years.

The Funcho-Arade and Bravura reservoirs, described as “important for irrigation,” have also seen levels drop. The situation at Bravura is said to be “critical”, as the possibility of the reservoir drying out completely by the end of this summer is becoming more and more “realistic”.