Following years of pressure and complaints, the government has finally agreed that vital dredging work for the Ria de Alvor should go ahead as fast as possible.
A €2 million tender will be released shortly, said a statement released over the weekend, suggesting the removal of 240,000 cubic metres of sediment should go ahead “within the first half of 2017”.
The novel aspect of this project is that the mass of sludge taken from the estuary’s troubled waters is destined to be used to ‘extend’ beach areas which in the summer fill up with visiting families and scores of wind and kite surfing enthusiasts.
The only proviso in the scenario is the laboratory analysis that will have to go ahead to check the sediment’s make-up.
Aside from improving navigation along the Ria, dredging will allow for better oxygenation of the waters which feed shellfish nurseries – proprietors of which have long been complaining about poor harvests due to dismal water quality.
According to the Ministry of the Sea, the work will be a “technical and financial cooperation” between Portuguese environment association APA, the department of natural resources and Maritime Services, with the help of community funding under the POSEUR programme (Programme for Operational Sustainability and Efficiency in the Use of Resources).
Local shellfishermen have been pushing for this kind of investment for years, saying that sedimentation that has built up in the estuary is not only killing their sources of income but causing a danger to navigation.