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Approval of the Regional Water Program and the Management Plan for the Hydrographic Region of the Azores

Approval of the Regional Water Program and the Management Plan for the Hydrographic Region of the Azores

Jan. 18, 2023

The Regional Water Program and the Management Plan for the Hydrographic Region of the Azores 2022 - 2027, presented by the Regional Government to the Legislative Assembly of the Autonomous Region of the Azores, are approved.

The Regional Secretary for the Environment and Climate Change, Alonso Miguel, highlighted the role of water, stressing that “it is a natural asset of strategic importance and essential to life, requiring rigorous and balanced management, based on principles of environmental and financial sustainability, including the adoption of an adequate planning policy”.

Alonso Miguel referred that “the planning of water resources in the Autonomous Region of the Azores is carried out essentially through two instruments: the Regional Water Programme, as a strategic instrument that aims to contribute to ensuring the protection and enhancement of water resources in the Region, and the Management Plan for the Hydrographic Region of the Azores, as the main instrument for implementing the Water Framework Directive, adopting a set of programs aimed at ensuring that the relevant water bodies reach good state”.

The Regional Secretary justified the change to the Regional Water Program as “an adjustment of its contents to the evolution of economic, social, cultural and environmental conditions, as well as a compatibility with the current regulatory framework, whose implementation will be in charge of instruments with an operational focus, for example, the Management Plan for the Hydrographic Region of the Azores or the Flood Risk Management Plan for the Autonomous Region of the Azores”.

Alonso Miguel considered, as part of the presentation of the Management Plan for the Hydrographic Region of the Azores, “that the growing pressure on water resources in the Autonomous Region of the Azores justifies the need for an increasingly dynamic and proactive intervention by the Public Administration and of citizens and that the amendment of this regulation intends to respond to these challenges”.

The Secretary responsible for the Environment stated that “the Management Plan for the Hydrographic Region of the Azores 2022-2027 is based on the relationship between the identification of pressures, the assessment of the state of water bodies and the elaboration of programs of measures, which allow mitigating the impact of pressures”. He added that “44 measures are proposed for the present planning cycle, of which 18 are basic measures and 26 are supplementary measures, and the estimated cost of implementation is greater than 72 million euros”.

Alonso Miguel clarified that, given the importance of the issue of contamination of soils and aquifers in Praia Vitória, as a result of US military activity on the island of Terceira, the Management Plan for the Hydrographic Region of the Azores 2022-2027 provides two specific measures regarding the follow-up and intervention on this matter: the development of an operational monitoring network in the Lajes area; and advancing with a study of options for remediation and recovery of soil and groundwater and characterization of the current situation.

The Regional Secretary also recalled that the party he represents, the CDS-PP, “has brought the issue of contamination of soils and aquifers in Praia da Vitória up for debate in the Regional Parliament since 2010, this being a priority matter for the Regional Government of Azores”.

“In addition to monitoring and analysing the rehabilitation work to improve the environmental situation surrounding the water supply holes in the municipality of Praia da Vitória, contracted by the Regional Government to LNEC, a Protocol was also established between the Regional Government of the Azores and the Environmental Fund, to carry out a pilot project, worth 500 thousand euros, to test various methods of bioremediation and restoration of contaminated soils, included in the Investment Plan for 2023, which is already being implemented”, added Alonso Miguel.

According to the Secretary, with the approval of the Regional Water Program and the Management Plan for the Hydrographic Region of the Azores 2022-2027, “the Autonomous Region of the Azores will have at its disposal an eminently strategic Management Programme, which defines the guidelines and the structural objectives to be achieved at a regional level, as well as an operational management plan for water resources, which promotes the planning and sustainable use of water, adjusted to the insular reality of the Hydrographic Region of the Azores, contributing to an adequate management of water resources and also making an important contribution to preparing the Region for the effects of climate change”.

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