“The impact (of the rain) was very asymmetrical in the Algarve”
The last few weeks of rainy weather have helped improve levels at the Algarve’s main dams, particularly in the Eastern Algarve (Sotavento).
However, many more weeks of rainfall may be needed before authorities feel comfortable about water availability.
“The impact (of the rain) was very asymmetrical in the Algarve,” the Algarve’s regional agriculture boss, Pedro Monteiro, told Lusa news agency.
“In Sotavento’s two main dams – Beliche and Odeleite – we had substantial improvements,” Monteiro said, adding that levels increased around 15%.
Further west in the Algarve’s Barlavento, the impact was less noticeable as it rained half the amount it did in the Sotavento, he explained.
Ironically, the central Algarve sub-region, which does not have any dams, registered the highest amount of rainfall (average of 230mm of rain since December 4).
Sotavento followed with around 200mm of rain, with Barlavento in last with an average of just over 100mm.
According to the regional agriculture chief, the Barlavento area used to be the rainiest in the Algarve, but the tendency has been changing throughout the last two years.
The decrease in rainfall has left dams struggling to respond to local water and agriculture needs.
“That explains why Bravura dam (in Barlavento) continues to have storage levels below 15% and remains the dam with the lowest amount of water in the Algarve,” said Monteiro, adding that the Arade and Odelouca dams remain below 40% of their capacity.
The numbers from Águas do Algarve
Data from regional water company Águas do Algarve – which manages the Odelouca dam in Barlavento and Odeleite and Beliche in Sotavento – shows that the impact of the recent rainfall has indeed been felt the most in the Eastern Algarve.
The Odelouca dam saw its total volume increase marginally from 31.11% to 32.56%, while its usable volume increased from 15.56% to 17.34%.
The gains have been much higher in the two Eastern Algarve dams, with Odeleite’s total volume increasing from 29.54% to 49.60% and its usable volume from 15.82% to 39.78% and Beliche’s total volume up from 22.93% to 40.85% and its usable volume from 13.75% to 33.80%.
The impact of the rain is being felt outside of the region’s dams and is coming as a blessing for the agriculture sector, as well as for animal grazing and beekeeping, Pedro Monteiro explained.
The rain is also helping to protect the pockets of farmers who, “for at least one month, won’t have to irrigate” their crops, he added.
Despite the good news, the regional agriculture boss says the Algarve is still “no way near a desirable situation.”
As he explained, the region’s dam levels were “so low” that it will take considerable improvements to bring them up to comfortable levels.
“Just around a month ago, levels were below 20%, It has to rain a lot more for dams and aquifers to reach a safe level,” said Monteiro. “Everyone must continue to save water.”