Government eases water restrictions and announces new package of 103 million for the Algarve

In the agriculture sector, restrictions will increase from 25% to 13%. In domestic consumption, the relief is from 15% to 10% and, in tourism, from 15% to 13%

Minister of the Environment, Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture – Photo: Pedro Lemos | Sul Informação

The Government will ease the restriction measures on water consumption in the Algarve, which will be 13% for agriculture and tourism and 10% for domestic consumption. The Prime Minister participated this Wednesday, May 22, in the meeting of the interministerial drought commission, in Faro, having also announced a new package of 103 million euros for the region to combat the lack of water. 

Luís Montenegro was flanked, at this press conference, by the Minister of Environment and Energy and the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries and announced that the Government will revoke the decision taken by the previous executive of António Costa, publishing, in the coming weeks, “a new resolution”.

In this document, relief in cuts for all sectors will already be foreseen. Still, these will not be identical, as requested by farmers who had, in the beginning, a bigger cut than tourism or domestic consumption,

Thus, in the agriculture sector, restrictions will increase from 25% to 13%. In domestic consumption, the relief is from 15% to 10% and, in the tourism sector, from 15% to 13%.

«The Government's decision was to have a relief of around 20 cubic hectometers (hm3) in all areas, distributed over 2.65h hm3 in the urban sector, 13,14 hm3 in agriculture and 4,17 hm3 in tourism», said Luís Montenegro . The tourism sector encompasses both golf and tourist accommodation.

The Prime Minister justified the “greater relief for agriculture” because it was “the area that had a greater restriction”.

«It would be bad if the Government were not on the side of the farmers. If we do not need to impose greater restrictions on businesspeople and companies… we are not masochists nor are we healthy – we do not want our own suffering, nor that of others», he further considered.

Luís Montenegro guaranteed that the executive he leads made this “conscious” decision, based on the “positive evolution of the hydrological situation”, but also “aware that water is a scarce resource that needs to be preserved and managed well”.

«The basis for this change is technical and scientific: it is guided and supported in all analyses, from IPMA, to all departments of the Ministry of Agriculture, Portuguese Environment Agency... Everyone collaborated with data that we have today and with expectations until the end of the year", he added.

But isn't this an overly optimistic perspective? For Luís Montenegro, the Government was “prudent”.

 

 

Photos: Pedro Lemos | Sul Informação

 

 

«We didn’t want to exaggerate. It is an exercise in responsibility and justice: we want people in the Algarve to feel confident in water management. Our perspective is to be able to walk so that we no longer have moments of restriction from now on and I believe that this path is understood by everyone. We are not indifferent to what people say and we are understanding of restrictive positions that are excessive in relation to needs", he explained.

At this press conference, Luís Montenegro also announced, in addition to the measures already foreseen in the PRR, such as the desalination plant, a «reinforcement of new investments» of 103 million euros, for the Algarve.

In this amount, it is planned to reinforce water efficiency measures in the Silves-Lagoa-Portimão perimeter (27 million), the reinforcement of water efficiency measures for public consumption in decline and the use of treated wastewater (10 million) and the launch of several studies to assess the water potential of Algarve basins (such as Alportel) and underground water availability (66 million).

In addition to this, there is also money from the Environmental and Tourism Fund of Portugal, which will carry out awareness campaigns.

Regarding the capture of water from Pomarão, on the Guadiana River, the head of the Government said that Portugal is in talks with Spain to «speed up and promote the rapid progress of the process».

Luís Montenegro also announced that the Government will create a multisectoral team to promote a new water strategy (“Water that Unites”) that will bring together several sectors such as the Environment, Tourism and Agriculture.

Despite the announced reliefs, the Prime Minister considered that this should not be seen as “facilitism”.

«It is a quantitative relief, but it is not qualitative. We want to continue promoting saving policies and good water management”, she considered.

Asked what the irrigation associations would say about these new measures, Montenegro replied that, given what he heard and the arguments presented, «this solution, honestly, deserves widespread satisfaction».

«Looking at the people of the Algarve, at any uneasiness they might feel, looking at the economic operators, the decision we took is one of trust and hope», he concluded.

This meeting was attended by several sectors (such as tourism or the environment), but did not have the participation of any mayor, unlike what had happened in the January meeting, still with the previous Government, in which the president of AMAL He was even at the press conference.

Farmers were also not invited.

 

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