In face of drought, Portugal officials set priority to provide drinking water

Portugal is facing the country’s worst drought in more than 20 years. The dire situation might lead to a ban on the irrigation of farmland, which uses up 80 percent of the region’s available water.

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SEPTEMBER 11, 2017 SANTA SUSANA, PORTUGAL — Portugal’s Pego do Altar reservoir looks like disused quarry now, its bare, exposed slopes rising up steeply on each side and shimmering in the sun as it holds barely 11 percent of the water it was designed for.

The huge lake where people used to swim, boat and fish has shrunk to a slither of water, surrounded by baked, cracked earth and a handful of white fish carcasses. It is a desolate and disturbing sight – and one that has become increasingly common in southern Portugal.

While parts of the United States and the Caribbean are drowning in water amid ferocious hurricanes, a drought is tightening its grip on wide areas of Portugal. More than 80 percent of the country is officially classified as enduring “severe” or “extreme” drought – conditions among the country’s worst in more than 20 years.

Water has sporadically been scarce in this part of southern Europe for centuries. But Portuguese Environment Secretary Carlos Martins tells The Associated Press that “it has gotten worse with climate change.”

Read the entire article on The Cristian Science Monitor