The Algarve’s dams only have enough water available to last until the end of the year, if there is no significant rainfall over the next few months, the Permanent Drought Monitoring Commission revealed in its most recent report.
According to the group, “it can be said that, at the end of June 2020, the situation in terms of availability of surface water in the water sources of the Algarve Multi-municipal Water Supply and Sanitation System (SMAASA), associated with management measures and strategies implemented, allow only to ensure the estimated consumption for the rest of the calendar year of 2020.
In other words, the Algarve is facing a worrying situation, as it has not been for at least a decade, ever since the Odelouca Dam began operating, despite it being now the main and largest reservoir of water in the Algarve region. After all, it is not just the current calendar year that has been marked by little rain. The report points to the "absence of wet years after 2000 and an increase in consecutive years with much below average rainfall".
“From the analysis of the volumes stored in the reservoirs, it is possible to verify that, in the last eight years, the maximum storage capacity of the main water reserves in the Algarve region, namely the Bravura, Odelouca, Funcho, Arade, Beliche, and Odeleite reservoirs has never been reached”, the report adds.
In the case of Bravura, the situation is especially worrying, given that the precipitation episodes recorded earlier this year in April and May contributed little to the recovery of water volume, which remained very low compared to average values". At the Beliche and Odeleite dams, in the Eastern Algarve, and at the Arade, in the Western Algarve, the situation is also not very promising.
According to the latest bulletin on water availability at the national level of the Portuguese Environment Agency, dated 31 August, these four dams in the Algarve are in the group of reservoirs with total volumes below 40%. In Bravura, the total volume of water stored was only 18.3% two days ago. Beliche is at 26% of its total capacity, Odeleite at 33% and Arade at 34%.
Águas do Algarve spokeswoman Teresa Fernandes admitted to press that the water levels in the Algarve’s dams "are far below what would be desirable".
However, the official declined to comment on the assessment made by the Drought Monitoring Committee, referring clarifications to the Portuguese Environment Agency, which is coordinating the implementation of the Regional Plan for Water Efficiency in the Algarve, the future bible of the efficient use of water in the region.
Photo credit to Flávio Costa of Sul Informação