Yet another golden Algarve beach with a Blue Flag status is undergoing some kind of engineering works as the contractor begins efforts on deepening the Alvor Estuary.
The main objective is to “reinforce the sand dune belt in order to ensure natural protection against erosion” (see picture of notice board). From ground level and from the air it looks something quite different.
Currently a massive dredging pipe snakes its way from the small internal marina by the town and ends at a vast trench near Praia dos Três Irmãos, in front of the Pestana Alvor Praia hotel.
A notice board states that the cost of this exercise is close to €2 million, where the EU is stumping up €1.7 million and the shortfall is funded by the state.
However, last week’s strong wind and waves battered and breached the trench bund allowing dredged material and de-watered silt to leach into the sea. It would appear that piping directly offshore would ironically have had the same outcome without having had to build a temporary trench.
The trench was fully accessible from the beach with partially half buried safety netting visible and little or no warning signs.
Children or dogs might have easily wandered in and fallen into the gooey mud.
The heavy pipes rolling around in the surf could also have seriously injured someone. This disregard for public safety and the lack of environmental standards are completely unacceptable.
The contractor needs to ensure that such sloppy site management is rectified before someone gets hurt or the beach becomes contaminated. Will the contractor also share its environmental policy on the overall treatment of Alvor’s estuarine sludge and what is the plan to dispose of the dredged material? Dumping it out at sea would be deemed illegal.
Both the Portuguese Environmental Agency (APA) and the Algarve’s Regional Hydrographic Administration (ARH-Algarve) need to be more transparent with this public works.
Summer is fast approaching, so let’s just hope that whatever happens now on Praia de Alvor is fully restored to its natural wonderful beach setting as soon as possible.
By CHARLES FREW