This year Portugal has already seen the fourth hottest and fifth driest winter since records began in 1931.
1. Severe drought
High-record temperatures and less rain are prompting Portuguese authorities to take action to reduce water consumption. At the end of May, almost all of Portugal was in severe drought, according to the country’s weather service IPMA. Last week, the president of Algarve Tourism said that a set of measures is being prepared in tourist developments in the region, but that those do not apply to human consumption.
We are gathering information from business associations linked to tourism to present a set of proposals for concrete measures to reduce water consumption, so that they become effective.João Fernandes, President of Turismo do Algarve, told the Lusa Agency
Some of the measures being considered include reducing non-potable uses of water, such as irrigation of golf courses and green spaces and the possibility of deactivating water of ornamental sources.
“We have to stick to what our area of action is and what we have been developing with the Portuguese Environmental Agency (APA) is the identification of contingency measures in tourist developments, with the objective of saving water in spaces of large consumption,” Fernandes pointed out.
2. Tourist awareness
Among the measures recommended by the Algarve Tourism Region (RTA) intensifying the awareness of tourists for the efficient use and behavior of water management — such as avoiding daily changes of bed and bathroom linen — are paramount. “It is a behavior that must be adopted not only by tourists, but also by the residents themselves”, Fernandes stressed, recalling that the RTA has a campaign running with 12 tips on these behaviors.
Turismo do Algarve’s President recalled that the region has been implementing and intensifying the application of part of the 52 measures identified for various sectors of activity, involving “contingency measures in the face of a prolonged situation of drought and the low level of water storage in reservoirs”.
3. Hoteliers’ back measures
Hélder Martins, the president of the hotels largest regional association in the sector, Associação dos Hotéis e Empreendimentos Turísticos do Algarve (AHETA) said they’re currently watering less green spaces, reducing systems in taps and raising awareness among guests.
We are trying by all means, on the one hand, to guarantee the operation and, on the other hand, to save water, with the implementation of several measures without compromising the quality of the service.Hélder Martins, President of AHETA, told the Lusa Agency
According to AHETA’s President, the hydrological drought situation “is a major concern” for Algarve hoteliers, which has motivated “the reduction in irrigation of golf courses and green spaces, places with high water consumption, as well as measures to pool management”.
“The reduction of water consumption in tourism had been agreed between the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA) and a group of businessmen in the sector,” Martins noted.
4. Water efficiency
Last week, Agriculture and Climate Action Minister Duarte Cordeiro said structural measures were underway in the Algarve with the implementation of the Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP), under which 200 million euros will be invested to improve water efficiency. In particular, the measures to reinforce the supply and connection of the dam of Odeleite from Pomarão, on the Guadiana River, were revealed.
Cordeiro said financing was also open for water efficiency projects to be implemented in the Algarve region, namely to stop the huge losses in public water supply networks.