Two of EDP’s hydroelectric plants have had to be shut down due to the continuing drought, with four more on the closure list.
The Vila dam in Tabuaço and the Santa Luzia dam power plants have ceased electricity production because the water in the reservoirs is low. What remains is needed for public consumption. The rules are clear: humans come first.
EDP has scaled down power production at four more stations: Guilhofrei, Carrapatelo, Aguieira - Raiva and Belver in addition to the two plants that already have stopped producing electricity.
The water levels in the dams in the Alto Minho are "worrisome but not dramatic," said the vice president of the mayors group for the Alto Minho which has been making the public aware of the urgent need for using less water.
In the reservoirs of the river Minho the storage capacity is around 40%. In the Lima river, the situation is more dramatic because the Alto Lindoso dam is at about 30% capacity.
According to the mayor of Valença, Jorge Mendes, the situation is being monitored day by day.
Several districts of the country are in extreme drought yet the environment minister has assured parliament that "we have a year of water in all but one of the reservoirs."
Matos Fernandes does acknowledge that the situation is more critical in the Fagilde dam but all the others, according to the man in charge, are just fine.
Fagilde Dam currently holds 10.5% of its capacity and the mayor of Viseu, Almeida Henriques, said that more than 500,000 litres of water per day will be arriving by train, from next week, to combat the drought that affects the region.
"We have already been able to reduce the consumption in four municipalities -Viseu, Nelas, Penalva do Castelo and Mangualde - and the population is responding well, but the water reserve in the dam will only last for 20 to 25 more days," added Viseu’s mayor who has been busying himself by overseeing a daily shipment of emergency water supplies coming in to affected areas by tanker.
"Since we started this process, Viseu council has spent €200,000 on water supply for the population. This is an expensive operation but it will not have an impact on people's bills. We need the Government to help us," said Henriques, adding that an emergency €250,000 made available by the State clearly will be insufficient to deal with the costs of supplying water through the continuing drought.
"The prospects for rain are not very encouraging," concluded the mayor of Viseu council where the financial reserves are leaking at the rate of €20,000 a day for water transport.