Algarve councils close pools and stop watering to reduce water consumption

Mayors agreed on water saving measures at today's AMAL meeting

The closure of municipal swimming pools in the coastal areas, the reduction of watering days and the cessation of watering public green spaces with lawns, with conversion to indigenous species and with less need for water availability, are some of the water saving measures decided upon in a meeting of AMAL – Comunidade Intermunicipal do Algarve, today, Friday, June 2nd.

This decision is taken one day after the Government decreed a 20% reduction in the quota of water for agricultural use and for golf courses at the Odeleite Dam, among other measures, due to the drought that affects the region.

Before the AMAL Intermunicipal Council meeting, from which these measures emerged, Duarte Cordeiro, Minister of the Environment, spoke to the Algarve mayors by video conference, and gave a live account of the measures announced yesterday after the Council of Ministers , revealing that, by the end of this month, the location where the desalination plant will be installed will be known.

At the end of the meeting of the body that brings together the 16 mayors of the Algarve, and «in view of the serious period of drought that the region is going through, the municipalities of the Algarve are moving forward with various contingency measures, also assuming a regional aim of reaching the end of this year with a 0% increase in water consumption, compared to 2019, the year in which there was a record number of tourists in the region», according to AMAL.

These measures are the same as those implemented last year «and which have effectively borne fruit in reducing water consumption». Such measures will now be "reinforced throughout the territory, namely: the reduction of public water consumption in gardens, the early closure of municipal swimming pools, with the exception of swimming pools in the more inland territories, as well as the reduction of street washing and the elimination equipment washing, except the washing of urban hygiene containers'.

António Pina, president of AMAL, assured that the municipalities are doing their part, even though their consumption represents «only about 10% of the water consumed in the Algarve», with the remaining 90% «the responsibility of individuals» .

«We all have to be aware that this is a very serious problem, a serious problem that seriously affects the present and future of the Algarve, and we all have to contribute to trying to reverse the current scenario, which is very worrying», warned the also mayor of Olhão.

Speaking to Antena 1, on the sidelines of the session, the president of AMAL reinforced that «the Algarve is going through a very difficult situation in the short term. In the medium/long term, we will be more robust, because the Algarve does not want and cannot give up having agriculture and golf courses».

“We realized that it is now necessary to stop, because there is no water for more. But our goal, as a region, diversifying the economy and having tourism that reduces seasonality, we want more agriculture in the future, efficient from the point of view of water use, and we also want more golf», he assured.

For now, and from the 15th of this month, an awareness campaign will be launched among the population, calling for water saving and for consumption to be restricted to what is absolutely necessary in people's daily lives.

The chairman of AMAL defended the «penalization of excessive consumption», that is, «penalizing those who do not comply and consume unnecessary».

For this to happen, "it will be necessary to implement legislative instruments, that is, amendments to the Water Law, which allow for an increase in the fees to be paid when there is unjustified consumption", according to AMAL.

António Pina also recalled that the 16 municipalities in the region have been, since last year, working on the Algarve Regional Water Efficiency Plan, as part of the Recovery and Resilience Plan, namely in reducing water losses in the urban sector.



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