Monte Novo, Vigia and EsporĂŁo reservoirs

The INNOMED Portuguese study area is enclosed by the hydrographic basins of the Monte Novo, Vigia and Caridade reservoirs, located in the Degebe river basin, one of the main tributaries and branch of the Alqueva reservoir. The catchment area of ​​the Degebe river is located in a region characterized by large annual thermal amplitudes and large precipitation differences between the winter and summer months. Drought periods are frequent, as well as the occurrence of short periods of intense precipitation, characteristics representative of the Mediterranean region, where problems of water scarcity and quality have become the focus of particular attention given the effects of potential climate change.

Location of the study area in Portugal.

The Alentejo is a Mediterranean region under high risk of significant impacts from Climate Change, with particular relevance to water resources. Presently there are water quality and quantity problems in the Monte Novo and Vigia reservoirs, which have been increasing recently and are likely to increase by the foreseen impacts of climate change.

View of Caridade reservoir and vineyard at the EsporĂŁo farm.

The reservoirs of Monte Novo and Vigia are part of the supply system for human consumption in the municipalities of Évora, Redondo and Reguengos, providing water for a population of about 65.000 people. These two reservoirs also representing an important source of water for irrigation in the region, supplying agriculture in an area of about 2.300 ha. The Caridade reservoir is integrated in a farm and provides water for agriculture in an area of about 700 ha.

Monte Novo reservoir.

The construction of the Alqueva dam and the filling of the respective reservoir from February 2002 marks a relevant time for the water management in the region. In fact, the river Degebe underwent a very significant change in the downstream section, approximately from the hydrometric station of Vendinha, which became one of the arms of the Alqueva reservoir. However, notwithstanding the major changes that have taken place in the river basin network, changes in agricultural land use have more recently begun to be felt, particularly with the introduction of new irrigation systems.

Vigia reservoir.

Previous experience of the group in the study area includes the projects:

  • CICLUS (Climate Impact of Changes in Land Use): 1997 – 2001. Project aimed to understand relationships between land use and climate change;
  • GestAqua: March 2015 – Dec 2016(www.gestaqua.adapt.pt). Project aimed at studying how CC will affect water availability and quality up to 2100.

Expectations within INNOMED:

  • Characterization of irrigation/land use water needs;
  • Land use impacts on reservoir inflows and water quality;
  • Best management practice alternatives;
  • Watershed hydrological balance and to sustainable water use – land use vs resource availability;
  • Intercomparison with other Mediterranean countries: irrigation and land use practices, water management strategies;
  • Stakeholder involvement.

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