Urban sector in Algarve must reduce water consumption by 15%
Tavira is running tests to see if lowering water pressure is a feasible solution to achieve the 15% reduction in urban consumption determined for the Algarve as part of its fight against drought, the local mayor said.
From March, restrictions on water consumption will be applied in the region to preserve reserves as much as possible, which are at below average levels and would only last until the summer if nothing was done, with the urban sector, including municipalities and tourism, having to reduce consumption by 15% and agriculture by 25%.
The mayor of Tavira, Ana Paula Martins, explained to Lusa that Tavira Verde, the municipal company in charge of public supply in the district, began tests on January 30 to assess the impact of pressure reductions at taps between midnight and 6am in various areas of the city, in order to see what contribution the measure would make to the required 15% reduction.
“We are experimenting with these reductions in a phased manner, from midnight to 6am, and what we want to know is exactly how much we can save if we have this measure, and even, if we can, extend the hours,” said the mayor.
Ana Paula Martins said that the municipality is waiting for a resolution from the Cabinet that will regulate the restrictions to be applied in the Algarve, which could be known on Thursday, to see what measures it can adopt to achieve the 15% reduction in consumption, because, she recognised, “it may not be enough” to reduce the pressure.
“We’re waiting for the Cabinet resolution to give us some comfort, and we also have to study some issues in terms of legislation to see if we can apply cuts of more than 15% to those who have two meters, which are usually the meters for swimming pools and gardens,” she said.
Asked if the reduction in consumption for second meters would be total, the mayor of Tavira replied that “it would have to be more than 50%” and could “almost be around 70%”.
“In terms of increasing tariffs, we wouldn’t accept the recommendation from ERSAR [the Water and Waste Services Regulatory Authority] for the time being, because we don’t think it makes sense yet,” she said, emphasising that the proposal to increase prices made by the sector’s regulator “is not binding”, if the Cabinet resolution doesn’t specify anything in this regard.
The mayor considered that, before increasing the price of water, other issues should have been “considered”, such as losses, “because Tavira Verde has very low losses”, or “there are many municipalities that subsidise water tariffs”, since “the 15% reduction is not an equal effort for all districts, in this case for all residents”.
“But for the time being, the municipality and the private partner want to pursue other issues, such as involving people and getting them to really save (water). I think people are more sensitive to this than to the price increases,” she explained.
Ana Paula Martins also pointed out that the council and Tavira Verde have decided to “put a lot of emphasis” on communication and will work together to make the general public aware of the need to save on water consumption.
“Tavira Verde is preparing to send a message to each person, with what their consumption is and the foreseeable reductions for this period of time,” she added, also pointing out that “all grass” has stopped being watered, and in green spaces, water is only being used “for the survival” of trees.