Portugal Heading for Drought?
Following Portugal’s driest February in more than 80 years, with similar conditions expected through March, the country is looking at a summer of extreme forest fire risk and water reservoirs at low levels. The Portuguese Met office reports that just 2% of normal rainfall fell in February, the driest since records began in 1931. Data for the end of December showed that 83 % of the country is suffering drought conditions.
The last time Portugal experienced these types of conditions in 2005, the total cost to the economy was put at 400 million euros. Farmers are hardest hit with crops affected across the industry. In the Algarve the lack of rain is producing smaller oranges which the market refuses to buy. Back in 2005 the grain and wine industry were also badly affected. If the drought will affect big farming businesses so dramatically I fear for the neighbours in our little village who are, to a certain extent, self sufficient and rely on the food they grow in order to get by.
How is the situation in your neck of the woods? Post in the comments section below.
So how can we reduce our water consumption this year? Here are a few tips:
- Turn off all taps when not in use and repair any leaking taps by replacing worn seals. A leaking tap can waste between 30 and 200 litres of water a day.
- Only use as much water as you need. For example: when washing vegetables run a little water into a bowl and wash the vegetables in this rather than leaving the tap running. When brushing your teeth, turn off the tap after wetting your toothbrush. When boiling food, use only as much water as you need and keep a lid on your saucepans.
- New power showers can use as much water in five minutes as is used by a bath, so consider fitting a low-flow aerator shower head. By adding air to the shower, these shower heads use less water to achieve power-shower pressure. Aerator taps are also available.
- Insulating pipes will reduce the need to run off cold water before hot water starts. This will not only save you money on your water bill but will also reduce your heating bills and your emissions.
- Place a water-saving device in your toilet cistern. This will reduce the amount of water that your toilet uses on each flush. If you’re choosing a new model, go for a water-efficient one.
- When watering outdoor plants, water at dawn or dusk to reduce water loss from evaporation.
- When choosing plants for your garden, look for varieties that don’t need a huge amount of water and are fairly resilient to drought. Plant local types rather than water hungry foreign ones.
Mulches such as wood chippings, bark and gravel help to retain soil moisture by reducing evaporation. They also suppress weed growth.
- Harvesting rainwater (what little there is) will reduce your demand for mains water in the garden. Get some big barrels!
Sources: Reuters, Lusa, IM