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Algarve dams’ water levels have been dropping non-stop for the past 20 months

The little rain that fell in October has not helped to relieve the pressure on the Algarve’s dams, meaning that the region continues to suffer from severe drought conditions.

According to data released by the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA) in early November, on the online platform of the National Water Resources Information System (SNIRH), the dams of Arade, Odelouca, Bravura, Beliche and Odeleite lost in October alone, an average of 3.2 percent of their maximum storage capacity.

At the end of September, stored water was between 30 and 40 per cent in most dams, far lower than normal for this time of year. In previous years the dams have been between 50 and 65 per cent full. The latter average is calculated on the basis of data recorded since 1990 for the Arade, Bravura and Beliche dams, and using the full backlog of data for the remaining dams.

Available data and statistics show that the rainfall that falls in October, the month that marks the beginning of the rainy winter season, is usually sufficient to initiate a resurgence in dam water reserves after the stress put on the dams during the summer.

However, this was obviously not the case this year. Strictly speaking, the uninterrupted decrease in the Algarve dams began way back in mid-2017. The data clearly shows this trend month after month without the expected increase that should be present in the colder months, between November 2017 and April 2018. In general, it is within this six-month interval that dams are able to reclaim their water reserves and reach peak annual storage peaks.

The Portuguese Institute of Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA), in its monthly forecast for the continent released online on October 28th, forecasts for the Algarve slightly above normal rainfall in the middle of the month. With moderate optimism, it is to be expected that this storage situation in the Algarve dams will soon change, bringing to a close a particularly long drought period.