Should groundwater be charged in Portugal? APA suggests solution to curb drought in the country

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Portugal currently has 26% of its mainland territory in extreme or severe drought, better than a year ago (97%). However, according to José Pimenta Machado, vice-president of the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA), there is cause for concern. “The bad news is that the relief is in the North and Center. In the South, particularly the Algarve, as well as the Mira and Sado Basin, we continue to be very concerned “, pointed out, to the newspaper ‘Público‘.

Should groundwater be charged in Portugal? APA suggests solution to curb drought in the country

The drought has worsened in the Algarve compared to last year. And what happens to the water stored on the surface is reflected in groundwater. “Of the 93 groundwater bodies identified in Portugal, 17 were in critical condition in June,” said Ana Rita Lopes, coordinator of the groundwater sector at APA. “And practically all of them located in the Algarve.”

“In the Algarve, the situation this year is slightly worse than in 2004/2005, which is the reference drought – the worst of the century,” he said. Rainfall in the area has decreased significantly. “But extractions continue. This is a problem for groundwater,” said Ana Rita Lopes.

In the south of the country, agriculture consumes 35 cubic hectometers of surface water and 99 of groundwater. “The challenge with groundwater is that it is in the private domain,” she said, which makes it difficult to manage.

According to the APA, Portugal must assess whether groundwater should be made public and charged for. “I think the country has to evaluate whether it is worth making groundwater public, to give it greater management capacity, and the situation has never been so favorable,” said the APA vice-president, noting that it has already been done in Spain.

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