Portugal tackles dwindling water levels

in News · 08-11-2019 01:00:00 · 0 Comments

As parts of the country are classed as experiencing severe and extreme drought and reservoirs, particularly in the south, see water levels falling, the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA) has gaurenteed the monitoring of water in the River Tagus.

The APA said that it monitors daily the water flows of international rivers with Spain, saying that “there is no monitoring failure on the Portuguese side”.

Data on the flow of rivers subject to the Albufeira Convention come from “automatic monitoring network stations”, which measure the flow of water in real time, namely to the Tagus River, which is the subject of complaints from Portugal about the management that Spain has made of water flows.

In declarations to the newspaper “Público”, the Portuguese Ministry of Environment and Climate Action stated that the Spanish management during hydrological year 2018/19 “is not acceptable” because of the average of 14 million cubic metres released from the Cedilho dam in September for Spain to meet the annual integrated volume established in the Albufeira Convention.

The APA states that “Portugal continuously monitors Spain’s compliance with the flow regime” and states that “Spain has complied with the stipulations of the Albufeira Convention”.

But the agency points out that Spain still lacks “significant investments in wastewater treatment plants in the Tagus River, which has prompted the European Commission to launch infringement proceedings against the Spanish state under the Urban Waste Water Directive.

On the Portuguese side, the APA guarantees that “the Tagus River has never been so monitored as it has been for about two years now, following the ‘2018 crisis’ and the ‘Clean Tagus’ project”.

“The monitoring exists” and is followed up with vigilance, which motivates “regular alerts and exchanges of views with the Spanish authorities”, adds the APA.

The APA argues that the flow regime of the Iberian international rivers “should shift to the regulation of more regular flows” and states that “technical talks have been taking place for about a year now, conducted by the APA on issues of water quality in the Tagus River and matters related to the flow regime”, by “initiative and leadership” of the minister, João Pedro Matos Fernandes.

At the end of October, 37 percent of mainland Portugal was in a situation of severe and extreme drought, with a reduction in northern and central regions.

According to the meteorological drought index (PDSI), there was a decrease in meteorological drought in northern and central regions and in the southern region, meteorological drought was maintained.

The report showed that on 31 October, 33.5 percent of the mainland was in moderate drought, 31.9 percent in severe drought, 17.5 percent in weak drought, 6.8 percent normal, 6 percent in low rainfall and 4.3 percent in extreme drought.

Reservoirs in the south of Portugal also has the lowest October water levels according to data from the National Water Resources Information System (SNIRH).

Of the 59 reservoirs monitored, three have water availability above 80 percent of the total volume and 30 have availability below 40 percent of the total volume.

The Sado river basin (25.6 percent) had the lowest water availability at the end of October, followed by the Barlavento (30.7 percent), Lima (33.9 percent), Arade (40.3 percent), Oeste (40.4 percent), and Mira (46.9 percent) river basins.

The Cávado (62.7 percent), Guadiana (61.7 perecnt) and Douro (60.9 percent) basins had the highest levels of storage at the end of October.

Above 50 percent of storage were the Ave (51.1 percent), Tejo (54.3 percent) and Mondego (58.0 percent) basins.

The reservoirs with lowest water availability were located in October, in the Guadiana and Sado basins.

Storages in October 2019 by river basin are lower than the October storage averages (1990/91 to 2018/19), except for the Cávado, Douro and Arade basins.


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