The drought has dried up several tributaries of the Tagus Portuguese. The drought and, according to ecologists, the Portuguese and the Government itself, that Spain does not send the water should be —neither in quantity nor in shape— according to the Convention of Albufeira (1998), in force since 21 years ago. The Portuguese Executive believes that “it is not acceptable to” the current situation, and announces that he’s going to negotiate with Spain a different distribution of the flow.

The Convention of Albufeira obliges the Spanish State to send to Portugal to 2,700 cubic hectometres annually of water. The debate is on how to send them. According to the agreement, the 37% of the flow will be shared on a quarterly basis, the rest is at the will of the hydroelectric Spanish, so they can legally send the 63% remaining at once. It is precisely what it did consist with diplomacy, the minister of Environment, portugal, João Matos Fernandes, Spain, in the parliamentary debate last Thursday when he was approached by the alleged breach. “What has happened is that it was necessary to throw a lot of water for Portugal to comply with the Convention. It is obvious that we must improve this situation; but there was here no attitude which was not to comply with the convention by the Spanish side,” he said. The Portuguese minister has been contacted —he said in parliament— with its Spanish counterpart, Teresa Ribera, to address the issue.

Although the National System of Water Resources has not released the water deliveries in recent months, the environmental movement Portuguese, I protect notes that in August and September, Spain launched the flow rate corresponding to a third of the year to comply with the treaty, causing economic damage, and fish in the area of the Tajo international, specifically in the affluents Ponsul and Sever. Until July, just two months to the end of the year that water only had been sent to Portugal, 70% of the flow agreement. Despite the sudden shipping, Spain failed to comply with the treaty in 103 cubic hectometres, according to the association.


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Despite recent rains, most of the Portuguese territory, where the main rivers come from Spain, suffers different degrees of drought. In October, only a swamp rose flow, while 11 continued to decline. The vision of the beached boats and bridges without water, it is usual for weeks in the course of the river Ponsul and on the Portuguese side of the swamp Cedillo. The problem is not the Pit, as the minister said in parliament: “The river has no lack of water, point, where the fault is in the tributary Ponsul, due to the lack of water in the lagoon where it was born”.

on Saturday, protecting a new proposal was submitted for negotiation between the two Governments. It consists, according to them, to triple the flow of the river without varying the amount of water. It would be a question of setting flow rates continuous and regular measured in cubic meters per second instead of in waves. All the flow is distributed evenly by quarters. “It would,” says the plan, I protect, “with the network free of the profit of the companies hydroelectric dams that they want to send the 63% when it is more profitable to produce energy, that is, when there are peaks of price in the energy market”.

Management “not acceptable”

the official position of The ministry is going in that line. Although it recognizes the efforts of Spain to fulfill the agreement, he criticizes his method. “The effort to guarantee compliance with the regime of flow of the Convention by Spain illustrates well the importance of the Convention and its mechanisms of control,” says a statement sent to THE COUNTRY by the Portuguese Ministry of Environment. “However, the management carried out by Spain during the water year 2018/2019 for the launch of the system of flows annually —despite the significant decrease in rainfall was not exceptional values— is not acceptable, and that Portugal already reported in a clear way to Spain and is going to reinforce that attitude in the next meeting of the Commission for the Implementation and Development of the Convention of Albufeira (CDAC), proposing the increase of the control mechanisms that will allow to avoid in the future situations of this nature.”

The Portuguese ministry recognizes that there is a project for the joint monitoring of bodies of water border and cross-border and harmonization of the evaluation criteria of your state.

“The Convention of Albufeira has worked, but it was signed over 20 years ago in other weather conditions,” says Eduardo Oliveira, president of the Confederation of Farmers of Portugal. Spain meets, but the way of distributing the flow rates is not commensurate to the current climatic conditions. Spain must reduce the emission of flows, and Portugal must increase its storage capacity, but not in the river but its tributaries, specifically those going to the dam of Alvito,” he says. “The Tagus Portuguese is very different from the Spanish,” continues Oliveira, “I can’t stand swamps as large as that of Alcantara, that is why you need flow regular and non-emissions grand as the August”. The representative of the farmers concludes that since “the drought affects equally the two countries, should join efforts to better manage flows because the water is not manufactured”.


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