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Alentejo councils may run out of water by August

droughtSome of Portugal’s municipalities may see in August without sufficient water, due to the drought conditions affecting 80% of the country.

The Alentejo and Beira Interior regions are the areas most affected by the current drought. The Secretary of State for the Environment already has warned that it may be necessary to look for alternative sources of water, while banning the watering of green spaces by local councils.

At the end of June about 80% of the mainland was categorised as suffering from severe or extreme drought. At the start of the summer season, 18 of the 60 mainland dams held less than half their capacity.

Several counties in the Alentejo and Beira Interior regions may reach August without enough drinking water for the resident population.

Secretary of State for the Environment, Carlos Martins, said in an interview with TSF today that the worst fears he had a few months ago are coming true, "In general, there are reasons for concern in the country and above all in the Sado river basin where the case already is very worrying,"
The National Water Resources Information System shows that all 10 Sado reservoirs have very little water (below 40%), in some, the water level is at around 20% of capacity.

In the rest of the country the situation is better, but practically all the country’s reservoirs have less water than their historical averages with some very low for the time of year.

Martins said that "it is necessary to take measures to contain consumption, to create regulations and above all to warn of the extremely serious situation which we are facing," adding that he is planning to meet the council’s that will be most affected by the continuing shortage.

Carlos Martins admitted that as well as the Sado area there is a zone in the ​​Beira Interior, near the border, which also may well run out of water by August if no immediate action is taken.

The final identification of the municipalities with the most potential problems has not been completed, but Carlos Martins explains that if things carry on as they are, the government will activate the Permanent Commission for Prevention, Monitoring and Monitoring of the Effects of Drought, a body created a little over a month ago by the Council Of Ministers.

Not content with one new commission, in parallel, a technical support committee will be appointed to advise the main committee.

The government also promises to make a contingency plan to deal with drought and to avoid the more serious mid-summer consequences, although no details are offered. Next week, meetings are scheduled by government, with farmers, reservoir managers and the councils that are expected to have problems.

The government wants councils to look at reactivating old boreholes to replace the current water supply and to stop watering green spaces.

Portugal’s weather service warned that at the end of June, just under 80% of the country was in severe drought (72.3%) or extreme drought (7.3%).

After a winter with lower than average rainfall, followed by a hot, dry Spring, the situation is set to deteriorate with rice and cattle farmers, always the first to be hit, already worried.



Carlos Martins, Secretary of State for the Environment

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+1 #5 bill stewart 2017-07-10 12:24
If the Algarve starts running short, may I suggest that golf courses be the first to have their water turned off?
+2 #4 Robert Williams 2017-07-08 20:16
There is a need for this new Permanent Commission for Prevention, Monitoring and Monitoring of the Effects of Drought, along with its technical support committee that will advise the main committee to get a grip on educating the farmers to water at night. Certainly before dawn. Not in the middle of the day.
In our area of the Alentejo the huge gantry watering systems are trundling around in the heat of the day. They are EDP fed not solar and drain neighbouring boreholes so this waste through evaporation should be plainly idiotic. Hopefully both these committees will spot this.
+8 #3 Marjolein MassisIt m 2017-07-08 02:45
It might be a brilliant idea to repair all water leaks in the main water tubes!
-3 #2 dw 2017-07-07 22:46
Farming rice in a desert is going to be tricky, but presumably the government is still intent on new fossil fuel exploration regardless.
0 #1 Robert6 2017-07-07 22:45
Not sure about water levels in lakesin the Alentejo, but last week I drove north from Casto Marim towards Alcoutim. The scenic road passing various lakes, They had plenty of water and only a metre or so below he high water mark.
You could tell from the vegetation.
I can not judge the level of rainfall in the Alentejo this winter, however, in the Algarve we had plenty of rain.

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