As a consequence of climate change, the Alentejo region in Portugal is suffering from a range of problems: decreasing annual precipitation levels; more frequent and intense droughts; substantial increases to annual maximum temperatures (up 6°C in summer months); increased number of days with temperatures above 35°C; increased heat wave frequency and intensity; and increases in heavy rainfalls. évora’s green areas are currently supplied with surface water sources, but these are expected to become increasingly scarce. Silvery water (Agua de Prata) is the name of a Roman aqueduct that supplied the city with water from underground sources. It was last rebuilt in 1533 but is now since unused historical feature.
The project LIFE AGUA DE PRATA aims to tackle some of the water scarcity challenges faced by the region by sustainably re-using water from the Graça do Divor wells and springs, which were previously sources for an aqueduct. Using these underground sources will help transform water supply for irrigation and will lead to annual savings of treated surface water of around 120 000 m³. Thus the threat of water shortages for other use will be reduced.
The project also aims to adapt the aqueduct so it serves as a distribution system able to supply the water needs for around 50% the town’s green areas. Nature-based solutions and ecosystem approaches will also be applied to these areas to improve their ability to withstand heat waves and extreme rainfall. Additionally, the project will promote water efficiency and energy saving measures, including a range of measures for small gardens. The project will contribute to the municipal’s strategy for adaptation to climate change, as well as the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 and the Floods Directive.