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Drought: Municipalities reduce garden watering and launch awareness campaigns


Measures being takenaround the country

Lisbon, Aug 21, 2022 (Lusa) – Municipalities across the country have adopted measures to minimize the general situation of drought, which include reducing garden watering, using recycled water in washing, reducing flows and more campaigns to awareness.

Since October of last year, it has rained practically half of what would be a normal hydrological year, according to the Portuguese Institute of the Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA) on August 9.

At least around eight thousand people from 50 localities in Trás-os-Montes are being supplied this summer with the help of auto-tanks due to the lack of water in the supply systems, namely in the municipalities of Carrazeda de Ansiães, Bragança, Macedo de Cavaleiros, Alfândega da Fé, Mogadouro and Vimioso, in the district of Bragança, and Alijó, in the district of Vila Real.

In Beja, public water supply is also being provided by auto-tanks in locations in six municipalities served by the Águas Públicas do Alentejo (AgdA) system, in villages of Aljustrel, Mértola and Moura (in the district of Beja), Alcácer do Sal and Santiago do Cacém (Setúbal) and Montemor-o-Novo (Évora).

Among the measures already adopted by the councils to reduce water consumption from public supply networks is the control of irrigation and the use of non-potable water from natural courses in public spaces and gardens and the alteration of the flora to native species that are more resistant to the climate. , as in the municipalities of Amarante, Penafiel and Paredes, in the district of Porto.

The deactivation and reprogramming of automatic irrigation systems or the creation of boreholes in urban parks to save water from the network are some of the measures implemented by other municipalities in Greater Porto, such as Gondomar, Matosinhos, Gaia and Santo Tirso, which also turned off the fountains and reduced the water available at public drinking fountains and fountains.

In addition to reducing irrigation, the Municipality of Reguengos de Monsaraz, Évora, announced the installation of high water efficiency equipment in municipal buildings, as well as campaigns with the population with tips to reduce consumption in the water bill itself.

In Beja, the Almodôvar Chamber informed the population about which public wells and boreholes are not used for human consumption, but which can be used for animal watering or irrigation.

In the district of Leiria, this municipality and the municipality of Nazaré opted to invest in new deposits to increase water storage capacity, while the Porto de Mós Chamber is reinforcing supervision to prevent fraudulent use of water, especially connections metering and misuse of public fire hydrants and fountains, especially in areas where “a consumption higher than usual” was detected.

In the Algarve, several municipalities decided to close municipal swimming pools and ornamental fountains or install flow reducers and the Algarve Tourism Region also proposed to tourist developments to reduce water in ornamental fountains, in the irrigation of green spaces and in the renewal of water in swimming pools as contingency measures to respond to the drought situation.

The Câmara de Loulé, for example, will keep the indoor swimming pools and in Quarteira closed until September, in addition to closing the outdoor swimming pools in Loulé and Salir on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, starting next Monday. .

In Castro Marim, the water tank in the village of Corte do Gago is supplied daily by a tanker truck since the wells that supplied the town dried up. This situation has already led the mayor, Francisco Amaral, to criticize political decision-makers for the “delay” in the construction of the water desalination plant, and, like the neighboring mayor of Alcoutim, Osvaldo Gonçalves, to defend the construction of a dam on the Foupana stream, a tributary of the Guadiana river.

The 19 chambers of the Intermunicipal Community (CIM) of the Douro also decided to survey the springs, boreholes and abstractions.

In Abrantes, Santarém, the Chamber will move forward with a global project to capture water from alternative sources and implement smart meters that allow the automatic reading of water consumption and identify leaks.

In Lisbon, a recommendation for sustainable water management in the city was approved and green spaces began to be irrigated with reused water, while Sabugal (Guarda) and Torres Vedras (Lisbon) reviewed their respective Contingency Plans for Drought Situations.

Awareness campaigns on the misuse of water and means of combating waste have also been carried out from north to south of the country, such as in Tondela, Alcácer do Sal and Guarda, where the Chamber appealed to residents and emigrants who spend their holidays in the municipality to who have “regulated consumption”.

In Alijó, a municipality in the district of Vila Real also affected by extreme drought, four young people exchanged their vacations for volunteering and this summer they are raising awareness among the population of about 50 villages in the municipality to save water.

The company Águas Públicas da Serra da Estrela (APdSE), based in Seia, appealed to consumers to reuse water whenever possible, take quick showers, wash their teeth or hands with the tap turned off, half flush the toilet, use washing machines and dishwashers at full load, fix leaks in the plumbing, don’t waste water during irrigation and don’t wash cars with the hose (opting to use a bucket).

Due to the drought, the Government decreed a minimum quota beyond which the dams cannot turbine, so the drought also affects the production of electricity.

The lowering of the water level was used to clean the dams and in the Alto Rabagão reservoir, in Montalegre, it was possible to remove a crashed seaplane submerged since 2007.

The drought situation does not only cover Portugal, but it is transversal to Europe and an analysis by the “World Wide Fund for Nature” (WWF) organization, released on Wednesday, indicates that about 17% of the European population is at great risk of drought, water scarcity by 2050, which could affect 13% of Europe’s GDP.