According to the resolution of the Council of Ministers, possible additional measures, which provide for a “higher degree of contingency” can be implemented after the reassessment of the drought situation in the region, which will be carried out in June.

“[...] The Government reserves the right, if the measures now adopted prove to be insufficient, to, under the Basic Law on Civil Protection, […] declare a calamity situation”, reads the document.

The Algarve is currently on alert due to drought and, if there is a declaration of calamity, it will be possible to establish limits and restrictions on the use of water in non-essential uses, as well as rationalisation measures in public water supply services.

In the same sense, the Government may also determine the use of surface or underground water abstractions, belonging to public or private entities, by the concessionaire of the Algarve's multi-municipal water supply and sanitation system, when necessary, in accordance with the Basic Law of Civil Protection in force.

Alternatively, the declaration of a state of environmental emergency as provided for in the Water Law may be considered.

The measures planned by the Government to preserve water reserves in the region include the suspension of the public water supply for irrigation of golf courses.

On the other hand, between June 1st and September 30th, the use of public water for washing vehicles is suspended, except in establishments licensed for commercial activity with water recirculation systems.

Potential cuts

According to the Government, the current situation in the Algarve “appears particularly critical”, and there could be an eventual “effective disruption in public supply systems” for human consumption if water use continues at current levels.

“[…] In a scenario in which measures are not adopted and implemented to guarantee the preservation of water reserves and in the absence of precipitation well above the maximum values that occurred in the last six years, the supply of water for human consumption in the Algarve region will be severely compromised”, states the resolution.

The alert situation due to drought in the Algarve was declared by the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA) in December 2023 and reaffirmed on January 25th.

According to the resolution of the Council of Ministers, since May 2022, water storage levels in reservoirs in the Algarve region have been below 50%.

Currently, groundwater storage levels “are extremely low, with approximately 84% of groundwater bodies having a stored volume below the 20th percentile, “and, of these, around 48% are in a very critical state”.

Related articles: