Six mothballed dam projects “awaiting green light”

With the country in the grip of its worst drought in living memory, six “mothballed” dam projects are being “reconsidered”.

Tabloid Correio da Manhã explains the dams – originally designed to produce hydroelectric energy – were “dropped” from the government’s list of priorities for various reasons.

But the commission set up to “accompany the effects of the drought” is prepared to reconsider their worth now that some of the country’s existing dams are at critical lows.

Say experts, the projects could be an answer (in the future) to water shortages, as long as they are built to “careful, moderate dimensions”, and “raise water availability” to help combat desertification.

The projects’ reevaluation is part of a 26-point plan to lift the country out of its drought-forced doldrums.

A number of measures approved involve investment designed to improve current supply systems, particularly in the arid Alentejo.

The six dams ‘back on the drawing board’ are Alvito, in Castelo Branco, Girabolhos, in Seia and Fridão, on the river Tâmega.

All these were suspended by environment minister João Matos Fernandes last year – principally on the basis that they did not have high enough energy production potential.

The other dams are Padroselos (in Boticas), Almourol (Abrantes) and Pinhosão, on the Vouga river.

These were dropped in 2010, for a variety of reasons, including opposition from environmentalists.

“We need two months of rain”

Rain at last is returning, but is it enough?

Climatologist Álvaro Silva of IPMA (institute of sea and atmosphere) has explained that we need two months of “above average” rainfall to redress the effects of the drought that sees almost half the country’s dams running dangerously low.

In Viseu, water supply is already being bussed to local populations as the Fagilde dam level has become critical (click here).

In the Sado river basin, Monte da Rocha dam is down to just 8% of capacity.

And in the meantime, the current spot of wet weather is unlikely to make any kind of significant difference.

Says Silva, the rain should be gone by the weekend when we’re due for a sharp drop in temperatures, particularly in the north.

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