There are fire hydrants pouring water into Faro, but it is «to avoid further damage»

In the space of a week, twice, fire hydrants poured water into the street for several hours

The fire hydrant seen in the photo that illustrates this news began to spurt water yesterday, Monday, at the end of the day and, this morning, around 11:00 am, when the Sul Informação had been there, had not stopped. The reason? The construction works of the roundabout in the Calouste Gulbenkian Avenue provoked, for the second time, within a week, a rupture in the water supply system of Faro and it is necessary to purge the air from the ducts “to avoid much greater damage”.

The situation has worried countless residents, who contacted our newspaper and who, in addition to having been without water for several hours at the taps, saw fire hydrants spouting thousands of liters of water into the street, at a time when the Algarve is in a state of severe or extreme drought.

Joana Cabrita Martins, one of the townspeople who took a stand against this waste of water, made, last week, when the first rupture occurred and the respective purge, which lasted all night and part of the morning, a report to the Regulatory Authority for Services of Water and Waste (ERSAR) and today it has filed a new complaint.

The resident considers this situation to be “atrocious. And then they are promoting public sessions in which they are very concerned about the issues of lack of water in the region».

Paulo Gouveia da Costa, president of Fagar, the municipal company responsible for water supply in the municipality of Faro, explained to Sul Informação that the water cut that affected several areas of the city, this Monday, was due to a rupture in a water pipeline "caused by the contractor" that is building the new roundabout on Avenida Calouste Gulbenkian.

“The contractor hit our pipeline last week and yesterday the same thing happened again. As a result of this rupture, other points in the system are under pressure and there were two more ruptures following this one", he added.


There was a rupture in the area of ​​the Hospital de Faro which, this morning, was still unrepaired

One of them, next to the entrance of the Hospital of Faro, on the São Luís Stadium side, was still being repaired this morning and water continued to flow to the Hospital Rotunda.

Questioned by Sul Informação on the waste of water caused by the purge that is being carried out, through the hydrants, Paulo Gouveia da Costa says that this technique “is essential to safeguard the integrity of the system. When there are these breaks, air enters the network and, if the air is not purged, we will have other points in the network with more breaks and with water cuts for longer periods».

But is there no way to reuse this water, using, for example, auto-tanks? The president of Fagar does not think the solution is viable. «We must have in Faro two firefighters' auto-tanks, which have to be ready for any occurrence. Even if we were able to fill an autotank with water from one of the mouths, where would we put this water?”, he asks.

Joana Cabrita Martins responds: «If they had collected the wasted water last week, yesterday, during the entire period they left half a city deprived of water, they could have placed several auto-tanks providing water to residents who did not have it at their taps. Or, simply, it could be used to water the various flowerbeds and green spaces in the city, turning off the automatic irrigation, to balance expenses. I'm not a water management technician, what I know is that whoever is has the responsibility and the highest duty to be informed and have an updated plan in line with the local reality».

Paulo Gouveia da Costa guarantees that the controversial purge “is in accordance with the best practices. This is what is being done everywhere and this has been done for decades. This concern with waste, which now exists, has to do with the fact that the issue of water has entered into people's daily lives and with the issue of drought. When the population is aware of these accidents, the concern comes to the fore».


Construction work on the roundabout on Avenida Calouste Gulbenkian led to the failures

However, for the official, «the problem of lack of water and water saving should not only be remembered when there are accidents. And this is an accident, not a normal operation. Water saving must be seen from another perspective, in the abstraction of water and in the creation of other forms of more balanced water retention».

Even so, Paulo Gouveia da Costa guarantees that “if possible, we will save as much as we can. However, we are talking about a crisis situation. What we have to do is use the most appropriate technical means to, in the shortest possible time, return water to the population. That's what the regulator obliges us to».

The president of Fagar, despite the criticism, leaves a guarantee: "In purges, there is some water that is used, but it is much less than we would lose with new ruptures caused by the air and eventually the collapse of the network."

Regarding the number of fire hydrants used for this purge, Paulo Gouveia da Costa does not give a certain number, since it depends “on the location of the rupture and the number of interceptions in the pipeline. One two or three can be used. Then some can be closed and others opened».

The person in charge of the municipal company understands that «people are alarmed, but we are from municipalities nationwide with less water losses. In 308 municipalities, we are in 20th place, behind Porto. We have 20% losses and the national average is higher. There are municipalities with 50 or 60% losses. And we have been working to keep losses low and reduce them even further».

For Paulo Gouveia da Costa, «the results dictate that we are on the right path» but, for the population, who see fire hydrants spouting water, the perception is different.