Storage of the six Algarve dams is only enough for 1 year of public consumption

There are preventive measures in the 7 reservoirs with limited water availability in the Algarve and Alentejo: Bravura, Santa Clara, Campilhas, Fonte Serne, Monte de Rocha

Odeleite Dam – Photo: Flávio Costa|Sul Informação

The six reservoirs monitored in the Algarve region have a volume of around 145 cubic hectometers (hm3), corresponding to 33% of the total capacity, announced the Ministry of the Environment.

These six Algarve reservoirs have about 82 hm3 less than on 1 October 2021 (beginning of the previous hydrological year) and their storage «guarantees 1 year of supply for public consumption».

The situation of dams in the Algarve and the rest of the country were analyzed at the inter-ministerial drought meeting, held on Friday, October 14, in Castelo Branco, with the Ministries of the Environment and Climate Action and of Food and Agriculture making some announcements. and taken action.

According to the Ministry of the Environment, «the 2021/22 water year was exceptionally dry in Europe, with a great impact on the Iberian Peninsula, with five heat waves in Portugal».

This is «one of the most serious hydrological drought situations of this century, due to the combination of unusual temperatures and low rainfall. This is the fifth year in a row with below-average rainfall.”

The hydrological year ended with a rainfall deficit of -393.8 mm and is the 3rd driest since 1931, after 2004/05 and 1944/45.

Last September was even classified as a «rainy month», with an average value of 66.5 mm of precipitation recorded, corresponding to 158% of the climatological normal value for 1971-2000.

In this way, there was a decrease in the meteorological drought situation throughout the territory compared to August.

Some places in the district of Guarda, Viseu and Castelo Branco moved from the severe drought class (on August 31) to the mild drought class.

However, stresses the Ministry of the Environment, «the rains in September were not enough to increase surface and underground water availability, as the extremely dry soil did not allow deep infiltration or runoff».

In terms of the hydrological situation, between 22 August (date of the previous inter-ministerial meeting) and 10 October, the water reserve in the set of 80 reservoirs monitored by the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA) was reduced by 167 hm3. Only in the Lima, Cávado, Douro and Sado basins was there a slight increase on 10 October compared to 22 August.

In the Algarve region, as seen above, the volume of stored water continued to decrease.

Taking this scenario into account at the national level, the two Ministries had already advanced with 93 measures to combat drought, which are divided into 34 governance, 34 on the demand side and 25 on the supply side.

Measures associated with Governance focus on the management and articulation of different uses in critical systems, on environmental management, on strengthening monitoring and also on planning and studies to promote resilience, namely through increased efficiency and adaptation. Of the recommended measures, 76% are being implemented or completed.

Measures associated with Demand focus essentially on increasing the efficiency and use of ApR for non-potable uses, temporary suspension of non-essential uses of water from the network, as well as the development of structural measures aimed at a more efficient and articulated use between the different sectors.

It is also worth mentioning the increase in the tariff for large domestic users during the dry season in the most critical municipalities and measures to control losses and unbilled water. Of the measures defined, 76% are being implemented or completed.

Measures associated with the Offer focus essentially on increasing water availability in the most critical regions, namely use of dead volume, reactivation of abstractions, interconnections between systems (Tua, Alqueva, etc). Of the recommended measures, 92% are being implemented or completed.

The contingency plans implemented (for the first time) in all public hydro-agricultural developments made it possible to assess water availability according to needs and preventively activate the necessary measures.

In this sense, of the 44 reservoirs monitored, 37 made it possible to ensure the 2022 irrigation campaign and the necessary and preventive measures were taken in the 7 reservoirs with limited water availability: in the Algarve and Alentejo, these are Bravura, Santa Clara, Campilhas , Fonte Serne, Monte de Rocha; in the North, from Arcossó and Vale Madeira.

The preparation of the Autumn/Winter agricultural campaign and the 2023 irrigation campaign takes place with the reinforcement of the monitoring of public irrigation reservoirs, which was expanded from 44 to 64 reservoirs.

As part of the promotion of efficient resource management, in addition to the digital field notebook, the notice open, until 21 October, to promote precision and intelligent agriculture and the installation of areas for the preparation/treatment of plant protection product residues was also highlighted. .

With an allocation of 24,5 million euros, support of up to 60% of investment in precision agriculture will be ensured (maximum rate allowed in the PDR2020).