Rain at last for Portugal

news: Rain at last for Portugal

A TROPICAL storm, dubbed ‘Hurricane Vince’, was predicted to hit Portugal in the early hours of Tuesday morning (October 11) of this week, however, it lost its intensity when it came in contact with the cold waters of the Atlantic, after taking shape between the Azores and the Canaries.

The strength of the winds diminished drastically and, shortly after midnight, it lost the characteristics associated with a tropical storm.

However, despite this, torrential rain poured down across Portugal, together with high winds, and meteorologists warned that the greatest danger would be at sea, where waves were expected to reach five-and-a-half metres in height.

Still not enough

Ironically, rain began falling in Portugal on local council election day (Sunday, October 9), perhaps marking a day of change. The rain is, of course, very welcome, especially in light of the country’s drought situation. However, there is a long way to go before any significant difference is made in terms of assuaging the effects of the drought and bridging the water shortage. Thus water saving programmes must remain in force.

Orlando Borges, president of the Instituto da Água, comments: “Only continuous heavy rainfall over several months would alter the effects of the drought in a decisive way.” According to the Instituto da Água, on September 30, 97 per cent of Portugal was described as being in a condition of severe and extreme drought, the worst drought situation in the last 60 years (83 per cent in 1945).

On Tuesday of this week, the Correio da Manhã newspaper reported that in Faro

23 litres of rain per square metre had fallen the day before, however, the figure necessary to start to minimise the effects of the drought in the south of Portugal would have to be more than 150 litres per square metre. Meanwhile, in Lisbon, the figure was 33 litres per square metre, while the desired figure was listed as being 196.5 litres per square metre. It rained more in one day in Lisbon than it had over the months of November and December of last year, however, it is still not enough to combat the effects of the drought. In Porto, 8.2 litres of rain per square metre was recorded, while the level needed was listed as being 278.8 litres.

Farmers

For the farmers, a large amount of water in just a few days can actually have a negative effect, causing torrents that can damage the soil, which is vulnerable due to the drawn out poor conditions. However, it was agreed that “it was preferable to see some rain, rather than none at all.”

More rain

The rain and wind was set to continue later into the week, due to the depression causing a general change in weather conditions. In light of the recent rainfall, it is timely to report on the water supply situation in the Algarve, one of the worst drought affected regions.

Will the Algarve have sufficient water next summer?

Artur Ribeiro, managing director of Águas do Algarve, was asked about the state of the Algarve’s water reserves. “The Barragem (dam) do Funcho is almost without water and the Bravura dam has 10,000 cubic metres, which, together with the municipal boreholes, guarantee the water supply of various boroughs in the Barlavento area. With regard to the dams of Odeleite and Beliche, the water level is low and, due to this fact, we are going to extract the remaining amount with pumps.”

When asked if there was a risk of a water shortage next summer, Ribeiro commented: “With the work in progress and thanks to the municipal boreholes, we should be able to guarantee the water supply next summer. As well as the remaining water from the dams of Odeleite and Beliche, we are going to direct water from the Odelouca river to the water treatment station at Alcantarilha and there are still more boreholes to be made in the Silves area.”

Asked about the possibility of the Algarve being supplied with water from the Barragem de Alqueva, Ribeiro confirmed that that was something still being studied. “The quality of the water is being analysed in order for a viable solution to be found because this implies a big investment,” he said.