Albufeira Convention should be reviewed, asks water specialist on National Day – Sociedade

Albufeira Convention should be reviewed, asks water specialist on National Day – Sociedade
Albufeira Convention should be reviewed, asks water specialist on National Day – Sociedade

Flow regime must be adapted to the reality of the two countries.

The Albufeira Convention, which regulates Iberian relations with regard to common rivers, should be revised, considering minimum daily flows, defends specialist Afonso do Ó, from the environmental association ANP/WWF.

“The convention is better than nothing, but it should be revised. Our fight in the WWF is in the sense that the agreement is good but that it is far from having minimum daily flows. It is more important to have lower but constant volumes”, he said. the person in charge in an interview with the Lusa agency.

Regarding the National Water Day, which is celebrated on Saturday, Afonso do Ó defended that Portugal and Spain should review the terms of the convention, so that the flow regime is adapted to the reality of the two countries.

It is through the Albufeira Convention, in force for 22 years, that Spain releases certain amounts of water into international rivers. In recent days it was reported, and the subject of a statement from both countries, that Spain will not comply with the annual flows in the Tagus and Douro rivers, which will be at 90% of the values ​​established in the Convention.

Afonso do Ó criticized and lamented the situation, stating that Spain could not fail to comply because an exception regime was not declared, something it has already done a few times.

The problem, he said, is that since the Convention is technically clear, no one “has access to any data, there is no information” and therefore there is no visible justification for meeting only 90% of the flows.

“Basically, it is a gentlemen’s agreement on the sidelines of what was agreed”, which comes after demonstrations in Spain against the transfer of water to Portugal, in a statement that actually only affirms what is already in the Convention, he said.

Although due to lack of information it is not known precisely what is being complied with, Afonso do Ó considered that in general terms “Spain has almost always complied” with the agreement with Portugal and until today, as far as I can remember, there have been three non-compliances.

The truth, he added, is that within the framework of the European Union, Spain cannot cut off Portugal’s water supply. But the truth is also that the Albufeira Convention provides for the existence of a Permanent Technical Secretariat that simply “stayed in the drawer”.

It would be right, he summed up, for the two countries to review the terms of the Convention and for the flow regime to be adapted to the reality of the two countries.

And in the reality of both countries, the use of water, he stressed, has to change.

Afonso do Ó also spoke about the agricultural sector, the expansion of the intensive culture model.

“If we don’t review the use of water in the agricultural sector, water will never arrive. We have to put a brake on this”, he advised.

Agricultural production represents 75% of water consumption in Portugal and 80% in Spain.

Afonso do Ó, a specialist in drought risk management and in Mediterranean climatology and the environment, said that due to the drought, it is planned to study the level of water scarcity and, depending on it, minimize or cut consumption.

But it is essential, he added, to review the price of water for agriculture, which neither pays for infrastructure nor has a real price.

But is water generally cheap? Afonso do Ó considers that the 10 million Portuguese consumers have a “limited liability” and many municipalities already have progressive levels, in which those who spend more pay more, and points the finger at the agricultural sector, with “too unequal” costs, with illegal use of water and with prices that do not pay for the investments.

And if the Alqueva irrigation system, “which actually benefits half a dozen multinationals”, is robust, other water supply systems, particularly in the Algarve, do not have enough water.

“The agricultural sector is very protected. Messing with what we eat is bad”, he says, warning that it is necessary to understand in which basins you can irrigate, in which basins irrigation cannot be expanded. “If the price is a limitation of access to water, the farmer will make other choices” in terms of products to grow, he says.

Afonso do Ó, in the interview with Lusa, says he agrees with the use of wastewater, which is already happening in some places, but draws attention to the need to also use rainwater, about which little is said.

And, in general terms, are the Portuguese aware that water is a scarce commodity and that it is necessary to save it? The expert is peremptory: “We don’t understand that we have to manage, control and limit the use of water. Resources are increasingly limited and we insist on not seeing that. To increase consumption is to go in the opposite direction of what we should. We even run the risk of running out of water, especially in the Alentejo and Algarve”.

Afonso do Ó recognizes that there are important water reserves in certain aquifers, which respond later to drought, but says that even these should be used “with some care”, because they also tend to decrease.

Desalination may be an option, but in addition to being an expensive option, it is only advantageous in areas of consumption very close to the coast, and has a significant environmental impact, he considers, adding that in the case of the Algarve “it is an interesting solution”.

The National Water Day has been celebrated annually on October 1st since 1983 to raise awareness of the importance of the resource and its more efficient use. This year happens when Portugal goes through one of the longest periods of drought on record. The first day of October coincides with the beginning of the hydrological year, the time when the water reserves are normally at a minimum and the rainy season begins.

The UN has established March 22 as World Water Day.

Afonso do Ó, specialist in the field at Associação Natureza Portugal, which represents the international “World Wide Fund for Nature” (WWF), chooses two “big measures” to mark the date: review the price of water in irrigation, to change options for farmers and limit the lack of control of these irrigation systems, and review the terms of the Albufeira Convention.

The article is in Portuguese

Tags: Albufeira Convention reviewed asks water specialist National Day Sociedade

PREV ‘Russian threat’ prompts Nordic-Baltic countries to rebuild Cold War defenses
NEXT Center Newspaper