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Your Algarve News Highlights - February 10th 2024

Your Algarve News Highlights - February 10th 2024

Dear Reader,

 

Here is your weekly news overview…

The desperate water shortage in Algarve

Everyone in the Algarve must greatly reduce their consumption of water in any way they possibly can, to help in what is being described as the worst drought situation ever in the region.

 

The caretaker government is demanding cuts to farmland irrigation and urban environments including tourism-dependent hotels.  Ordinary householders, especially those with a swimming pool or a garden irrigation system, must also significantly reduce consumption. If they don’t, the authorities have no choice but to impose tighter restrictions and higher prices

 

The rain that started this Thursday is most welcome, but it is not going to change the severe shortage that has worsened over the years because of climate change.  The reservoirs and groundwater supplies are extremely low and may not get any higher before the rainless summer sets in. On average the Algarve’s six reservoirs are currently only 25% full. Some have far less.

 

Without immediate cuts in consumption “we would reach the end of 2024 without water for public supply,” says Portugal Environment Minister, Duarte Cordeiro. Agricultural irrigation will have to drop by an average of 25% on last year - and the cuts could rise to 50% in areas around the emptiest reservoirs.  Urban areas, including hotels and golf courses, face cuts of 15%. 

 

Local municipalities are being forced to reduce overall consumption by 15% and if they don’t do so quickly, less water will be available to them, meaning that householders will face higher prices and less water in their taps.

 

There is no such thing as “natural” weather anymore. It has all been complicated by man-made global greenhouse gas emissions. Portugal has long been regarded climatically as the California of Europe, but at the moment it could hardly be more different. So far this month California has been devastated by floods and landslides. No doubt things will be back to “normal” in the summer with similar heat waves and wildfires.

 

The European Copernicus Climate Change Service announced this Thursday that for the first time on record, global warming in Europe over a 12-month period has breached the critical 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) above pre-industrial levels. The world’s oceans have set a new record as the heat intensifies.

 

Scientists say there is still time to keep global warming below the crucial 2.o degree C threshold, but it will mean far greater and more immediate action to limit the emission of greenhouse gasses, especially by the most powerful countries such as the United States, China, Russia, India, and the United Kingdom. 

 

We are all fed up with “crises” in the world, but here is yet another, albeit a much more regional one.

 

As wonderful as it is to live in peaceful Portugal and the western Mediterranean, this is well known as one of the most vulnerable places in Europe to the most serious impacts of climate change.

 

Portugal is at the forefront of countries in the world addressing climate change by reducing fossil fuels, but it is a small country and it understands with the deepest concern how nations such as The United States, The United Kingdom,  China and  Russia remained more focused on the likes of war, financial, immigration and other domestic worries.

 

It’s not doomsday talk: coping successfully with global warming must be the world’s number one priority for human survival.


 

Albufeira: Collection of food biowaste has begun

From February 1st, the collection of food bio-waste in the Horeca area of Albufeira has begun, namely in restaurants in the Guia area, but to be extended to collections at public schools.

 

Alongside this, an environmental awareness campaign “Albufeira Valoriza!” will begin, aimed at students, educators and teachers, as well as restaurants.

 

The collection of bio-waste is carried out in partnership with the company Luságua, with 240 litre bins being distributed so that educational establishments can place food bio-waste, namely fruit and vegetable peels in them. As part of the project, organic waste is collected daily to be used to fertilize the soil, after being transformed into 100% natural compost.

According to the mayor of Albufeira, “by correctly separating and depositing this type of waste we are contributing to a circular economy and to meeting the goals set out in PERSU2020 – Strategic Plan for Urban Waste, which ultimately helps to preserve the Environment ”.

José Carlos Rolo says that with this type of separation and collection “we intend to achieve a very significant reduction in relation to the total amount of unrecovered waste”.

According to a note from the Municipality of Albufeira, around 36% of the waste that is dumped in containers intended for disposing of unsorted waste is organic waste, namely solid food remains left over from meals, fruit peels, vegetable scraps, and cooked meat and fish scraps, leftover bread and cakes or paper napkins.

The municipality has an ongoing awareness campaign with a view to informing the population about the type of waste that cannot be placed in the organic waste containers, such as cigarette butts and ashes, animal excrement, leftover medicines, corks, bulbs, glass and broken crockery, liquid waste, packaging and containers, plastic and metal, printed paper or aluminum foil, textiles and nappies.

 

 

Explosions and fire destroy beach restaurant in Luz

The iconic beachside restaurant Paraiso in Luz has been completely destroyed by a fire which began just after midnnight, on Wednesday.

 

Residents in Luz were awoken by the sound of explosions, as the much family run restaurant-bar, initially established in 1964, was engulfed in flames. The flames and smoke could be seen from a long distance.

 

Modernised by the current owners in 2002, the establishement was much loved by locals and tourists, enjoying prime position on the Praia Da Luz.

 

The nature of the explosions lends the hypothesis that gas canisters, used for cooking, may have had a catastrophic failure and exploded. It’s unknown whether there was an unknown fault which caused the subsequent explosions, and if the disaster was intentional or accidental.

 

Unfortunately, the entire restaurant has been destroyed, as flames continued to smoulder well into Wednesday afternoon. 

 

Fortunately nobody was injured and no surrounding restaurants, buildings, or structures were impacted as Paraiso was separated from other businesses. 

 

Local authorities and fire brigade are currently investigating the wreckage to see how the disaster occurred.

 

 

Storm Karlota: Mainland Portugal under yellow warning on Thursday

From Thursday, in addition to heavy rain and strong wind, sea disturbances are also expected due to storm Karlota, putting mainland Portugal under a yellow warning.

 

The yellow rain warning is in force for 18 districts of Portugal, between 3pm and 9pm on Thursday 8th February, plus an orange warning for Porto, Viana do Castelo and Braga between 12:00 and 18:00 on Thursday.

 

The districts of Faro, Setúbal, Lisbon, Leiria, Beja, Aveiro and Coimbra will be under yellow warning due to the state of the sea until 06:00am on Saturday.

 

According to a statement from IPMA , “this depression is part of a complex depression system, with two nuclei, which is evolving into just one nucleus, which will be located southwest of Ireland”.

 

The depression has an associated cold frontal surface and it will be this front that will affect mainland Portugal from Thursday onwards.

 

The change in the weather begins to be felt this Wednesday with light rain, especially in the North and Center regions, and with the wind intensifying from mid-afternoon.

 

 

Algarve: New golf course will only progress if irrigated with treated water

The construction of a new golf course in Vila Real de Santo António, the second of the Monte Rei project, will only progress if irrigation is carried out with treated wastewater, the vice-president of the municipality assured Lusa news agency.

 

The tourist resort, which already has an 18-hole course and now has an expansion project underway - in public consultation until Thursday -, asked the competent authorities to extend a license with a four-year term that expired on 20 December 2023, said Ricardo Cipriano.

“What is under public discussion is the extension of the deadline for the Environmental Impact Declaration (DIA) that was in force until December 20th 2023. It was authorized within the scope of the Monte Rei golf course expansion project, a project that is within the approved urbanization plan and still in force”, explained the mayor.

The councilor of the Algarve municipality stressed that the DIA had been obtained with a favourable opinion conditioned for four years and the Algarve Regional Coordination and Development Commission (CCDR), as the competent entity for the decision, requested opinions from the Chamber, the Institute for Conservation of Nature (ICNF) and the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA).

“With regard to the City Council, we understand that, obviously, Monte Rei is a strategic asset for the economic development of the municipality and, given that this expansion project, what is proposed, is that it be supplied exclusively with treated wastewater, that is, without recourse to any surface or underground supply source, we did not oppose”, he explained.

The mayor assured that the Municipality is aware of the difficulty that the region and the municipality are going through due to the drought, but highlighted that the project meets the proposal of the Ministry of the Environment and the Algarve Intermunicipal Community (AMAL) that all golf courses are irrigated, by 2030, with treated wastewater.

Ricardo Cipriano said that, within the scope of this strategy, the “water captured, either through underground aquifers or from surface supplies”, such as dams, “is zero or almost zero”.

The vice-president of the municipality said there were two possible options for Monte Rei, located in the parish of Vila Nova Cacela, 15 kilometres from the county seat: irrigating the golf course with treated water from the Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) from Vila Real de Santo António, which “produces four cubic hectometres per year”, or from another WWTP in Tavira.

Ricardo Cipriano said that currently two golf courses in Castro Marim use one cubic hectometre of the Vila Real de Santo António WWTP, “therefore, there is still scope” for Monte Rei to obtain treated water from that source.

Lusa questioned the spokesperson for the Commission for Hydroagricultural Sustainability of the Algarve about the development of a new golf project, when agriculture in the region will be subjected to water cuts of 25% to preserve existing reserves as much as possible in a scenario of drought, but Macário Correia referred to the APA's determination on the matter, which prevents the use of water from aquifers and dams.

“We agree with what the APA imposed on them, they cannot go to boreholes or water from dams, they have to go to reused water. So, that’s fine,” he said, saying that it wouldn’t make sense if they could further reduce existing reserves “when there are orchards drying out.”

 

 

Water tariffs to rise by 15% to 50% from March

Over the weekend, it was announced that municipalities across the Algarve will raise water tariffs by 15% to 50% from March onwards, for the 2nd tier of consumption upwards.

 

Algarve municipalities are obliged to reach the target of 15% in reducing water consumption, established by the Government, and fines will be applied in cases where uses considered excessive persist.

 

On the other hand, municipalities that, for the second consecutive month, do not reduce consumption, suffer a reduction in its water supplied, which means that there will be less water available through the taps of their resident’s houses.

 

You can check your current invoice to see which tier of consumption you are in. The tiers are not the same in all municipalities, but, in general, consumption is distributed as follows:

 

First tier: up to 5m3 of consumption per month. Exempt from price rise.

 

Second tier: between 5 and 15m3 of monthly consumption. Covers the majority of domestic consumers. Price rise will be 15%.

Third tier:
goes from 15 to 25m3 of consumption. Price rise will be 30%.

 

Fourth tier: consumption above 25m3. Price will be up to 50%.

 

A 15% raise will be applied to non-domestic consumption - hotels, commerce and industry - regardless of water consumption historic data.

 

The president of the association of the 16 Algarve municipalities said that "Of course, not all municipalities agree, because some already have higher levels of efficiency", but the measure was approved, and of the 16 Algarve municipalities, only Silves expressed their intention not to implement it.

 

In addition to raising price, municipalities are already implementing a series of other measures, with a view to reducing water consumption, such as reducing watering in green spaces, washing streets and the operating time of fountains, among others.

 

They are also, under the PRR program (Plano de Recuperação e Resiliência), carrying out rehabilitation works on the water supply pipelines, with the aim of reducing water losses along the distribution system.

How can you save water?

Small changes in behaviour can make a big difference in your bills at the end of the month and also contribute to taking care of the health of our planet. Don't forget that preserving a resource as important as water is everyone's responsibility so are the suggestions that you can and should put into practice from today.

Minimize water use in the kitchen

 

According to Deco Proteste , there are several strategies to save on daily water consumption in the kitchen. One of them is during meal preparation, for example, when you need to wash vegetables or fruit, avoid leaving the tap open for a long time as much as possible.

 

The same applies in cases where you need to wash the dishes by hand. The suggestion is to fill the sink bowl and place the dishes with detergent in the bowl, instead of leaving the water running.

 

If you use the dishwasher more, you should avoid pre-wash cycles and only use wash cycles with a full load. In addition, you should also opt for eco programs. These programs allow you to save around 20% in water and also 25% in electricity compared to the main programs (auto, normal or universal).

Zero waste in the bathroom

 

This is the room in the house where, most likely, the most water is used. According to Deco Proteste, a family of three people, each of whom takes a ten minute shower every day, can involve water consumption of between 5,400 and 18,000 litres per month. 

 

The first tip is to reduce shower time. If you take a 5 minute shower, instead of 10, and turn off the tap while soaping your body and washing your hair, water savings in your home could reach 100,000 litres per year.

 

Another tip when it comes to bathing is, while waiting for the hot water to arrive, collect the first shower water in a bucket and use it to flush the toilet, wash the floor or water the plants.

 

It is also important to ensure that there is no water leakage from the taps or toilet cistern.

 

And, speaking of flush toilets, if possible, get one with double flushing, as they allow for greater savings. If this is not possible, choose to reduce the filling level by adjusting the plastic screw that controls the float, and only perform complete flushes when necessary.

Transform your garden into a sustainable place

 

If you have a house with outdoor space and have made it into a garden, or simply have some plants, choose to water them at night. This year, even now, the temperatures are starting to approach those usual in spring and, therefore, watering the garden plants in the cooler hours avoids losses due to evaporation. It is also important to water only the root area and not the leaves.

 

If you have an automatic irrigation system, you can install moisture sensors in the soil, which detect when it is necessary to activate automatic irrigation. You can and should also turn off the automatic system when it rains.

 

Another piece of advice is, in the months with higher temperatures, not to cut the grass too short, to allow the soil to remain moist for longer, avoiding waste in watering.

OTHER NEWS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED:

More news next week!

 

Ed

 

The News this week is sponsored by Portugal Pathways:

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To see more info about events coming up in the next few weeks, check out

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For latest information and advice regarding crime, wildfires and the Covid-19 pandemic, visit the

Safe Communities Portugal website

 

Everything you need to know if you are moving to, living in or visiting the Algarve.

AngloInfo website

 

‍Have a great week, from the Algarve Daily News team!

 

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