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Portugal restricts some reservoir use due to winter drought

  • Portugal restricts some reservoir use due to winter drought

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Faced with one of the worst droughts in the past twenty years, especially uncommon in the winter months, the government of Portugal has restricted the use of certain reservoirs for hydroelectric power and irrigation, reports AP.

On Tuesday, the Environment Ministry announced that in the centre of the country, four dams producing electricity will be almost completely shut down and in the southwest, a dam will halt irrigation.

Researchers estimate that 54 percent of Portugal is already enduring a moderate drought, 34 percent a severe drought and the remainder is experiencing an extreme drought. The drought is due to low rainfall since November. The country is also experiencing hiher-than-usual temperatures, which is also aggravating wildfires, which is very unusual in winter.

Joao Matos Fernandes, Environment Minister, said during a press conference that the initiative is necessary to ensure the drinking water supply for at least two years.

He added that Portugal has around 60 reservoirs of different sizes and other reservoirs are full enough to make up the shortfall resulting from the restrictions.

According to AP, these restrictions are to remain in place until March 1, when they will be reassessed as Portugal’s weather agency has warned that little rain is forecasted during the month of February.  

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