João Matos Fernandes, Portuguese Environment Minister, announced on Wednesday that the government will assign €5 million from the Environmental Fund for awareness campaigns and contingency solutions to fight the drought the country is experiencing, reports LUSA.
"In the order of the Environmental Fund, which will come out no later than next week, we will allocate €5 million from the Environmental Fund for awareness campaigns and for contingency solutions that may be necessary," said Matos Fernandes.
The minister mentioned various contingency solutions, including water transport in tanker trucks, "small alternative solutions to access water", and "cleaning the bottoms of some reservoirs.
According to the minister, water for human consumption "is the one we have to protect first and foremost, and it is protected. There is enough water in Portugal's reservoirs for two years of human consumption even if it never rains, which is an unthinkable scenario."
For the minister, all other functions, such as electricity production and crop irrigation, although "certainly important", are "less relevant" than human consumption.
At the beginning of February, the government had announced it would be restricting the use of certain reservoirs for hydroelectric power and irrigation because of the drought in mainland Portugal.
"Whenever the quota of that same reservoir approaches that value, there can be no electricity production, because, I repeat, the primary function of water use is human consumption".
"The drought in Portugal, I've said it several times, is not cyclical, it's structural. In the six years that I've been minister, there was one year in which it was not necessary to decree measures to protect us from drought, which was last year," he pointed out.
Meanwhile, the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA) called for the sustainable use of water and to avoid wastage, washing cars and filling private swimming pools, despite the fact that the public supply is guaranteed.