Faced with an unprecedented drought, Portugal’s government advised 43 municipalities to temporarily raise water tariffs for its largest customers and to cease street cleaning and watering in public parks and gardens.
According to the IPMA, all of mainland Portugal is suffering from severe or extreme drought as a result of recent heatwaves.
According to Environment Minister Duarte Cordeiro, ten of the 61 dams on mainland Portugal are in catastrophic condition, with the stored volume of water falling below 20% of their capacity.
The virtually dry dams supply 40 communities in the country’s north and center, including three in the tourism-dependent Algarve.
Although the country as a whole has enough water in its reservoirs to last two years, the 10 in critical need only have enough for one year, according to Cordeiro.
Portugal has 278 municipalities that are in charge of delivering water to the inhabitants.
In the 43 worst-affected states, Cordeiro said the government advocated raising the price for people and businesses that use more than 15 cubic meters of water per month during the worst of the drought. The average family in the country uses 10 cubic metres of water each month.
They must also “temporarily suspend non-essential uses of water, namely for washing streets and watering green spaces, and in decorative fountains and swimming pools,” he said, adding that the government would assist in ensuring that these measures are implemented quickly.
“There is always the legal possibility for the government to adopt measures with more force than recommendations, though it is not necessary for now,” he said, adding that municipalities were ready to act.
The government ordered the shutdown of six dams in February, and as of August, Portugal had stopped irrigation of golf courses, public parks, and gardens in the Algarve to avoid having to restrict water for human consumption.