Artist's impression of what Albufeira's desalination plant will look like. One of the questions by environmentalists fighting the plan on various grounds is 'would the government be spending €90 million on such an exercise if the money did not come from the European Union"?

Albufeira foreigners call public meeting “to prevent environmental crime at Praia da Falésia”

‘Estrangeiros/ Algarve’ to present ‘little-publicised facts’ on negative consequences of desalination

Campaigning ‘estrangeiros’ have called their first public meeting to discuss strategy on how to stop €50 million euros being splurged on a desalination plant in Albufeira that will not only contaminate the sea but fall massively short of providing the amount of fresh water the region needs.

We Say NO to the desalination plant” will take place on Wednesday (February 7) at 11am at the entrance to Praia da Falésia (the location chosen for discharges from the plant into the sea).

Speakers will be from the environmental movement “Amar o Mar”, from the group Estangeiros/ Foreigners Algarve, from PAS – the Algarve platform for sustainable water (which itself has been advocating against desalination, for several reasons click here) and owners of some of the plots of land where construction of the plant is planned.

Points of discussion include the facts that:

  • The beach is within an AMPIC (protected marine area of community interest) – and therefore toxic brine should not be discharged from it back into the water;
  • A study has highlighted the serious negative consequences of desalination
  • There is an action programme of adaptation to climate change (in which desalination is not even mentioned…)
  • The above action programme stresses that desalination lacks a proper study
  • The Algarve’s regional water efficiency plan has no short term solutions
  • Water losses in agricultural networks run at 30%-35%
  • Recycling of waste water is running 1.02% (contravening EU directives) and vastly behind other countries like France/ Germany/ Holland – which recycle up to 95% of their water
  • The €50 million PRR investment in a desalination plant can only ever hope to supply enough fresh water for 100,000 inhabitants, when the region has upwards of 450,000 in the ‘low season’ alone
  • Desalination will contaminate the environment with brine at a volume of 60,500 tonnes (m3) per day, at a temperature of 26ºC – reducing levels of oxygen in the water, impacting seriously on all forms of marine life
  • The process of desalination is energy intensive, creates very high greenhouse gas emissions
  • Desalination implies high end costs for consumers.

These are just some of the hottest talking points of desalination which organisers suggest is being ‘foisted’ on the population as if it was something miraculous.

Estrangeiros/ foreigners Algarve is a group that has enormous ambitions for the region – to the point that it has talked of creating its own political party to run in the 2025 municipal elections. It recently presented a petition to Albufeira municipal assembly pinpointing the reasons why desalination carries risks of “irreparable damage”, and is threatening to take the project to the European Court of Justice unless authorities reconsider.

Anyone interested in learning more is welcome at next Wednesday’s meeting. ND