THE ALGARVE Commission of Coordination and Regional Development (CCDR) has lifted a five-day bathing ban at Albufeira’s Inatel beach after an inspection last weekend.
The original decision to close the beach, described as a precautionary measure by the authorities, was made after two discharges of polluted rainwater from the Vale Mangude stream reached the sands at Inatel.
Some effluent ends up by the sea as part of its natural course, but the discharges in question, resulting from an unusually heavy volume of water and a failure at a nearby Estação de Tratamento de Água Residual (ETAR), a residual water treatment centre, brought particularly foul odours and pollution to the beach.
The closure inconvenienced holidaymakers and cut local restaurateurs’ takings by up to 60 per cent. Albufeira Câmara President, Desidério Silva, conceded that the problem could recur unless an alternative course for the stream’s effluent was found.
The pollution was caused by a combination of recent heavy rain (on July 27) and the ongoing severe drought affecting the region. The drought, accompanied by inadequate cleaning of areas near to beaches, has also resulted in an accumulation of waste, stagnant rivers and lagoons, and dwindling numbers of fish.
Water sanitation treatment system underway
José Macário Correia, president of the Junta Metropolitana do Algarve, has announced an innovative new residual water treatment programme that should be ready within three years. It is hoped that the sanitation programme should eliminate the kind of problems experienced at Inatel beach. The work, overseen by Águas do Algarve in collaboration with the region’s câmaras, aims to resolve the continuing problem of treating effluent.
Until then, Correia, who once served as Secretary of State for the Environment under Cavaco Silva, has pledged that the treatment of residual waters will remain perfectly safe and reliable. He conceded that the situation in Albufeira was very unfortunate, but described it as an accident of the sea and abnormal for the Algarve.