Algarve should consider what it can accomplish with less water

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The president of the Algarve Intermunicipal Community (AMAL) argued that the worsening drought in the Algarve should force us to reflect on the region’s development model to determine which activities may have a future in a scenario of water scarcity.

António Miguel Pina told PP, “What we are doing is, at the very least, ensuring that there is no shortage of water for the urban water cycle. Afterwards, it is necessary to consider what activities, what type of agricultural production, can be carried out with water in decreasing quantities.”

According to the president of AMAL, investments are being made to ensure the sharing of water in the different reservoirs, between sotavento and barlavento, and to increase their capacity.

“The system [of dams] has communication [between windward and leeward], but it is necessary to increase that capacity, because a greater volume of water may need to be transferred from the leeward reservoirs to the windward reservoirs,” explained the also mayor of Olho.

Additionally, António Miguel Pina stated that investments are being made in the networks in order to reduce losses, to make use of wastewater, primarily for the supply of golf courses and in some cases for agriculture, and to develop new water sources.

Funded by the Recovery and Resilience Plan (PRR), projects to diversify the region’s water sources include the installation of a desalination plant in the Algarve and the capture of water from the Guadiana River through Pomaro.

“However, a deeper, medium- and long-term reflection is required, and this is what the Pact for Water intends to achieve, because the Algarve development model must be conceived with this water variable in mind,” he argued.

António Miguel Pina believed that it is necessary to “look at who the major consumers” of water in the Algarve are, bearing in mind that “agriculture accounts for 60%, the urban water cycle for 32%, and golf for 6%,” in order to consider the economic activities that will be viable in the future based on the amount of water that will be available.

“It must also be made clear that golf, which consumes only 0.6% of water, has the same gross added value as agriculture in our region, which consumes 60%,” he said, emphasizing the need to determine “if it is possible to continue to grow” with certain agricultural species or productions, but without specifying which.

The president of AMAL clarified that “we’re not talking about removing what already exists” in the region’s agriculture, but rather “about pondering whether the expansion of agricultural activity in the Algarve can continue in the same manner as in the past.”

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