ENVIRONMENT

Worsening drought forces Portugal to introduce restrictions

Portugal's government is activating contingency plans in response to a drought gripping almost 80 percent of the country.

Environment Secretary Carlos Martins says the "extremely serious" situation after an unusually dry winter and an exceptionally hot spring requires action, such as imposing restrictions on water consumption. Martins also told Lisbon radio TSF that municipal councils should reopen disused boreholes and stop watering public gardens.

Reservoirs in some areas are at 20 percent of capacity. A monthly report published Friday by the Meteorological Institute says 72.3 percent of Portugal is in a severe drought and 7.3 percent are suffering even worse with extreme drought conditions.