The measures were announced by the Minister of Environment and Climate Action, Duarte Cordeiro, at a joint press conference with the Minister of Agriculture and Food, Maria do Céu Antunes, after the two ministers presided over the 9th Meeting of the Permanent Commission on Prevention, Monitoring and Accompaniment of the Effects of Drought, in which an assessment of the situation was made regarding the meteorological, hydrological, hydro-agricultural situation, crops and animal watering, and the assessment of critical situations.

The ministers recalled that, according to official forecasts, 34 percent of mainland Portugal is in severe drought and 66 percent in extreme drought, and that rain forecasts will not reverse this situation.

Driest year on record

Data from the Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera (IPMA) indicate that this year is the driest on record (since 1931) and that only the year 2005 approached the current situation, so the meteorological and agrometeorological drought "forces us to take measures”.

At the beginning of February, there had already been a meeting of the Commission, in which measures were announced and taken, which will now be complemented with others and water for human consumption is safeguarded for two years.

At the February meeting, explained Duarte Cordeiro, 50 measures were taken, which are already underway, and the Government is taking another 28 measures to deal with the drought, from conditioning the use of water to solutions to make water available in the most affected territories.

New normal

“We have to get used to living with less water”, said the minister, stressing that this is true for all Portuguese people and in all regions of the country.

“Although the country is going through a serious situation, we have instruments and knowledge to overcome this drought situation”, he said.

In terms of more structural measures, he stressed that the water efficiency plan for the Alentejo will be ready by the end of the month and that an intervention plan for the Tagus and West zone is also being concluded.

And he said that at the end of the month, in Lisbon, Portugal and Spain will meet again to take stock of the situation of the drought, which also affects the neighbouring country.