Faced with an unprecedented drought, the Portuguese government has recommended that 43 municipalities temporarily raise the price of water for the biggest consumers and suspend street cleaning and watering public parks and gardens, according to Reuters.
All of mainland Portugal is suffering from severe or extreme drought following heatwaves in recent months, according to the national meteorological institute IPMA.
Environment Minister Duarte Cordeiro recently said that out of 61 dams in mainland Portugal, 10 are in a critical situation, with a volume of water stored below 20% of their capacity.
The nearly dry dams are supposed to supply 40 municipalities in the north and center of the country, and three are in the Algarve, a region dependent on tourism.
For whom has the price of water increased?
Although the country as a whole has enough water in its reservoirs for two years of consumption, the 10 in critical condition do not have enough water for a year, Cordeiro said.
Portugal has a total of 278 municipalities, and they are responsible for supplying water to the population.
In the 43 most affected, Cordeiro said the government recommended that, for the period when the drought was most severe, the price would increase for families and businesses that consume more than 15 cubic meters of water per month.
The average family in the country consumes 10 cubic meters per month.
“Measures with more influence than recommendations”
They must also “temporarily suspend non-essential uses of water, namely for washing streets and watering green spaces, as well as in decorative fountains and swimming pools,” he said, adding that the government would help ensure the swift implementation of these measures.
“There is always a legal possibility for the government to adopt measures with more influence than the recommendations, although it is not necessary at the moment,” he said, adding that municipalities are willing to act.
In February, the government ordered six dams to shut down electricity production, and starting in August, Portugal cut off irrigation to golf courses and public parks and gardens in the Algarve to avoid having to ration water for human use.