“This year, the Algarve is worse than last year, it is in the worst situation ever. We’ve never been like this. It is a new path that we are taking”, stated José Pimenta Machado at the National Meeting of Water Management Entities (ENEG) which started today and runs until Thursday in Gondomar.

The situation is of “particular concern” and could “eventually” lead the APA to “take difficult measures”, in January or February, he anticipated, revealing during this intervention that the group of reservoirs in the Algarve region currently accounts for 30 cubic hectometres (hm3) less than in 2022.

On the other hand, José Machado clarified that APA monitors the water level in the reservoirs daily and decisions are made based on this analysis.

“Everything has to be evaluated in the function of the water reserves. We are in the middle of winter and it is in winter that the reservoirs recover water. We will have to carry out rigorous and continuous monitoring of the evolution of the level of the reservoirs and eventually, in the first two months of next year, we will have to take measures so that there is no shortage of water”, he stressed.

The vice president of APA took the opportunity to point out the control of water consumption and the reinforcement of groundwater inspection as possible measures to mitigate water scarcity.

The official also said that the situation in the Mira River Basin, in Alentejo, is similar to the Algarve region, however, in that case, “human consumption is safeguarded”.

According to the weekly reservoir bulletin of November 20th, the volume stored increased in three river basins in the country and decreased in 12 compared to the previous week.

In relation to the same document, there are five reservoirs with a storage percentage that does not exceed 20 percent: Campilhas (6 percent), Monte da Rocha (8 percent), Vigia (16 percent), Arade (15 percent) and Bravura (8 percent), the last two in the Algarve.

José Pimenta Machado – who participated in the afternoon in a round table on adapting to the new European directives on water – was satisfied with the work carried out by the “task force” created in June to mitigate the effects of drought in the region.

At that time, the Government decreed a reduction in the quota of water for agricultural use and for golf courses by 20 percent in the Odeleite dam, in Castro Marim, in the district of Faro.

If golf courses have the capacity to reuse wastewater, the limitation increases to 50 percent.

The measures came at a time when a third of the country was in severe and extreme drought, with the Algarve and Alentejo raising the greatest concerns.

This was confirmed by the vice president of APA, who said that in some stations in the Cávado and Lima basins, precipitation values of 1,000 liters were recorded: “That is, it rained more in 15 days in that area than it rains in two years throughout the Algarve region”, adding that these phenomena cause more challenges.

The official also recalled that investments are being made in the Algarve region to find alternative sources, such as the project to build a desalination plant in the municipality of Albufeira, which is under public consultation until 19 December.

It is foreseen public investments of around €342 million from the Recovery and Resilience Plan (PRR) and European funds, to increase water resilience.