Property owners are forced to declare water resources

By ELOÏSE WALTON [email protected]

Land owners and tenants of properties that have unlicensed water resources must declare these by May 31 so that they can be legalised or face fines of between 25,000 and 2.5 million euros.

The compulsory declaration, which is made through the Administração da Região Hidrógráfica do Algarve (ARH), the regional water authority, is for resources such as wells, boreholes, mines, dams and septic tanks that drain into the soil and which are not currently legal.

To declare an unlicensed water resource, property owners should fill in the relevant forms, which are available from the ARH, and pay a three euro stamp duty.

Documents required for this process are a passport, fiscal number, and a document that proves ownership or rental of the property as well as an ordinance survey map or ‘carta militar’, which shows the area where the water resource is located.

Free ordinance survey maps are available online at or from local parish councils and Câmaras.


According to the ARH, any property owner that does not declare illegal water resources by May 31 could face a fine of between 25,000 and 37,500 euros. The fine for companies ranges between 60,000 and 2.5 million euros.

If a property has a legal licence but has been sold or inherited, this is still valid. However, the new owners should inform the ARH about the change of ownership by May 31.

For property owners that are unsure whether their water resource is legal, this information can be found out directly through the ARH.

Also, boreholes which exist but are not in use are not affected by this new law but the ARH does recommend that property owners declare them in case of future use.

Once a resource has been declared, the ARH will then decide whether a licence of use is to be issued, which could lead to property owners having to pay a tax for using the resource.

For more information and to obtain the necessary declaration forms, please contact your local parish council or visit the ARH, which is located on Rua do Alportel, n˚ 10 – 2˚ in Faro or call 289 889 000. Alternatively, visit the website, available in Portuguese only, at