Night-time water rationing coming soon – unless there’s plenty of rain
The Secretary of State for the Environment, Carlos Martins, admitted today that the rationing of water at night, in some localities, is one of the measures lined up should the drought continue.
Carlos Martins said that this is the longest drought that the country has ever lived through and advocates rationing as there is not much else that can be done, apart from people helping by using less.
Martins said that turning off water supplies at night would have the advantage “that in council water networks that have lots of leaks, at least at night they would not lose water.”
The Secretary of State for the Environment also said it is important that “municipalities and water service management companies should reduce water pressures.”
“When pressure is reduced, for every minute we have the tap open, there is a lower flow rate and therefore we are saving water due to the loss of pressure. What is more important is people’s self-control so that they are not subject to rationing – they themselves have to behave better in consumption and water use and to be more efficient,” said Martins.
The Secretary of State had some handy hints to save water such as taking fewer baths, a more disciplined use of the toilet, not brushing teeth, hands or dishes using running water and watering plants with already used water at night.
Asked if the lack of water could cause increases in water and electricity bills, Carlos Martins said that “this year not yet, because prices are regulated annually by the regulator, which is independent and does not depend on the Government.
“As far as electricity is concerned I can not make an assessment, but the regulator for electricity services will consider whether EDP, which is not now able to produce energy from water power, will have higher costs but this is a matter for which we do not have detailed knowledge.”
Carlos Martins also pointed out that the rain forecast for this week is insufficient to combat the effects of drought, “the longest one that Portugal has ever lived through.”
The Secretary of State also stated that the Water Management Commission already has initiated an intense communication programme in the media and on ATM (multibanco) screens to educate the public in water saving practices.
According to the dry weather index from the Portuguese Institute of the Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA), on November 15th there was an increase in the land area under extreme drought conditions with about 6% of the territory in severe drought and 94% in extreme drought.
In Spain the situation is little better with reservoirs at 37% of capacity, a much lower figure than last year’s 48.2%.