Algarve wants to capture water from Guadiana to reinforce public supply
Guadiana River (Photo: CCDR)

Algarve wants to capture water from Guadiana to reinforce public supply

The project foresees the possibility of an additional 30 million cubic metres of water in the Odeleite-Beliche system.

The Águas do Algarve (the Algarve Water Company) has already sent the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA) an Environmental Impact Study (EIA) for the construction project of water collection in the Guadiana River area. This capture would be made upstream of the Pomarão, where the waters are no longer saline, and injected into the Odeleite reservoir.

If approved, this work will be financed by the Recovery and Resilience Plan (PRR) and foresees an investment of €61.5 million. The vice-president of the APA underlines that the capture in Pomarão will allow to put 30 million more cubic meters of water in the hydraulic system for the Algarve’s public supply.”

The objective of the PRR is to save 12 cubic hectometres (hm3) in urban systems, 5 hm3 in agriculture, 8 hm3 in the WWTPs water usage, with the [construction of the] desalination plant, another 16 hm3 and the connection to Pomarão, another 30 hm3″, explains Pimenta Machado.

The Environmental Impact Study presents three alternatives that pass through the Mértola, Alcoutim and Castro Marim municipalities. With the various measures planned for the region, over 75 million cubic metres of water will be injected into the system, the equivalent of urban consumption for one year in the Algarve.

Both Águas do Algarve and the APA consider that the alternative for water capture in the Guadiana River, in addition to other decisions designed for the region, may guarantee the resilience of the public supply, even in periods of prolonged drought.

Until then, the Algarve’s reservoirs, in total, have little more than 30% of their capacity and groundwater is in a bad or mediocre situation.

No water shortage for another year

After meeting the drought assessment commission in the Algarve, the vice president of the APA guaranteed that there was water for public supply for another year. “There is no doubt about that. There will be no water shortage in the taps”, assured Pimenta Machado.

However, with a prolonged period of drought, the groundwater bodies in the region are in poor condition, he adds.

“It’s worse than the historic drought of 2005,” he laments. At the last interministerial meeting on drought, it was forbidden to authorise new boreholes.