“We should start looking at this type of phenomenon with greater concern, because this type of drought will be more and more regular and we are not prepared for that at all”, said the researcher from the Universities of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Daniela Terêncio, in statements to Lusa.

Last Wednesday, the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA) called for the sustainable use of water, suggesting that “waste of water in everyday use, car washing and filling private swimming pools” be avoided.

The next day, the president of this agency, Nuno Lacasta, said that Portugal “is better prepared than ever” to face the drought, due to the “experience” with this phenomenon, which has become increasingly recurrent.

A focus on “demand management” also contributes positively, looking at “water efficiency, reuse of water, knowledge of availability”, aspects that are “very recent in our country”, highlighted Lacasta.

Not coping

Asked if Portugal copes well with the drought, Daniela Terêncio was peremptory: “I don't think so”.

According to the expert, “there are many strategies and a lot of planning that are not put into practice”.

One way to solve the problem, she suggests, is to make water efficiency mandatory in new construction, similar to what is already happening with energy efficiency.

The engineer specializing in water resources Joaquim Poças Martins considers, in statements to Lusa, that “we should always save” and even talks about the importance of “creating a culture of saving”.

In Portugal, water consumption is “in line with the moderate consumption of developed countries with which we compare ourselves”, says the professor at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto.

Faster showers, “applications” that allow water to be saved in the taps, avoiding washing cars and not watering the lawn are some of the basic rules of saving in private consumption.

Magic number

“The magic number is 10 litres [of water] for every minute of water running through the taps.” Every minute saved, 10 litres less are used.

Even with this individual effort, which must be made, “from an objective point of view, in Portugal, in most cases, the impact is not too great, because the expenditure is not on domestic consumption, it is on agriculture”.

There are also losses in municipal systems that can be easily repaired, and that allow water to be saved, in a country where there are municipalities with water losses in the order of 80%.

These losses can be real, when they are physical losses, or apparent, in billing, which are also important because “water that is not measured or billed, is not saved”.

For real losses, “it is possible, with management measures, without spending a lot of money, to reduce losses to acceptable values ​​- anything above 20% is unacceptable, between 10 and 20% is already acceptable, the desirable thing is that it is below 10%”, he concluded.