North development chief calls on councils to “find ways of storing rainwater”

“We have to find ways of responding better to bad weather”

President of Portugal’s Northern Regional Coordination and Development Commission (CCDR-N), António Cunha, has called on local councils to find technical solutions to retain rainwater that is becoming more frequent and intense due to climate change.

Without wanting to go into “technical details”, António Cunha pointed to the “creation of retention basins to hold water” during periods of heavy rainfall.

Speaking at the headquarters of the Alto Minho Intermunicipal Community (CIM), in Ponte de Lima, during the ceremony to ratify contracts for the replacement of municipal equipment and infrastructure in 50 local councils damaged by the floods of December 2022 and January, Mr Cunha said it is “a time to reflect” on those storms, which will “certainly” happen again.

“We have to realise that there is a trend that is beginning to manifest itself, to be noticeable, of more intense, more aggravated atmospheric phenomena, more concentrated in a given time frame. We have to have different forms of planning and projects that appeal more to sustainability in order to respond better to bad weather”.

As he stressed, the “summer tends to be drier” which implies “learning to store the water that does fall from the sky”.

Focus should be on “integrated water storage systems”, he argued.

“We have to have planning solutions. Whether through the creation of retention basins or cushion spaces to prevent the volume of water from being lost. We have to find mechanisms so that, in acute periods of rainfall, the water enters the rainwater systems or other drainage systems.

“There is a call that must necessarily be made for an integrated way of planning our spaces so that we can manage water better. In Minho, where we are, where water exists in abundance, it has to be used more sparingly because it is, as we all realise, an increasingly scarce commodity,” he added, noting that “knowledge and techniques” have improved in recent years, but there is still some way to go.

“The way we plan and project for the future, namely in the projects we make for our fellow citizens, to be enjoyed by them, must be projects that can withstand the storms that will certainly continue with us, because nature is part of us and our lives,” he concluded.

As Lusa explains, the cost of damages as a result of the 2022 storms in the north came to around €21 million, of which the State has (finally) contributed €11 million, although companies are still waiting for support in the region of €4 million.

Source material: LUSA