Portugal’s environment minister “guarantees” that Spain is playing fair over water supply
João Matos Fernandes has met his Spanish counterpart to discuss the flow of water from the Spanish rivers that flow into Portugal’s Guadiana, Douro and Tejo rovers and, in a statement that will be viewed with deep suspicion from environmental organisations, assured everyone that Spain has been fulfilling its part of the Albufeira Convention, which sets minimum flow rates.
Fernandes admitted that there had been “a very few exceptions” to the agreed water supply deal and said that from now on there will be daily flow monitoring, not weekly, and information soon will be easily accessible, rather than hidden from public view.
“Portugal has fulfilled its part of the Albufeira Convention over the past last year. Spain has fulfilled it 100% for the Guadiana,” the minister said in Oporto after a meeting with Isabel Garcia Tejerina to discuss water management in international rivers.
Fernandes admitted that, in relation to the Tagus river, “there was a single week” in which the Convention was not fulfilled in the past year, “because there was work on a dam near the border.” As for the Douro River, the regime also was not fulfilled on one occasion, but it was “almost” adequate and Spain compensated later on, by releasing more water into the system.
The meeting came a day after environmental group, ZERO, reported that Spain has not kept to the agreed water volumes to be released into the Douro, Tejo and Guadiana.
The ministers agreed that the reporting was sub-standard as environmental groups and members of the public are hard-pressed to find details of flow rates, online.
“We must be and we can be more transparent with this the information,” said Fernandes, promising to put details online more regularly and in a place where people have a chance of finding the information.
Spain and Portugal have weekly, quarterly and yearly flow obligations. Alongside Isabel Garcia Tejerina, Matos Fernandes spoke about changes that could be made to the Albufeira Convention, which celebrates its 20th year in 2018.
The Spanish minister did not actually agree that changes would be made, “It is important to note that there are alternatives and that Spain scrupulously complies, and that this will go further,” she waffled, while suggesting that “a reservoir built in Portugal can give environmental benefits.”
Few environmental groups will see Portugal’s environment minister’s pro-Spanish statements as anything unusual – his defence record of Portuguese environmental interests have at best been described as ‘weak’ .
This was shown over Spain’s Almaraz nuclear power plant extension where a site visit was linited to a restricted party and Portugal’s legitimate cross-border complaint was withdrawn by the minister on the orders of Jean-Claude Juncker.
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