PSD leader believes the Foupana dam project is the “right strategy” for Algarve
The leader of Portugal’s largest opposition party, PSD, said on Thursday that building a dam at the Foupana stream is “the right strategy” to deal with the Algarve’s drought situation and increase water reserves.
Luís Montenegro was speaking to journalists during a visit to the site where the dam is expected to be built after hearing the president of the Eastern Algarve Irrigation Association, Macário Correia, present the project. Montenegro embarked on Monday on a four-day tour of the Algarve which saw him visit every borough in the region.
“Year after year, we’ve experienced the worsening drought situation. Year after year, we’ve had very questionable patch-up solutions and year after year, we’ve sometimes hesitated on the strategy. And I think this strategy (of building a new dam at Foupana) is the right one,” said the PSD president in a conversation with Macário Correia and the deputy mayor of Castro Marim, Filomena Sintra.
Montenegro said that it was important not to always think about “big projects”, which “take longer”, such as bringing some of the ‘extra water’ sitting in dams in the north of Portugal to the south.
“I don’t have a dogmatic view on this, I think we should look into it. I realise that the country doesn’t exactly have a shortage of water. What it has is poor management of the water it has. It’s clear that in one region or another, there really is a shortage, and it has to be filled,” he told reporters.
Earlier, Macário Correia had shown a map from explaining how the Beliche and Odeleite dams, the two that exist in the easternmost part of the Algarve, supply water to the whole of the eastern Algarve, up to Quarteira, and how the Algarve Water Efficiency Plan already includes the Foupana dam, which flows into the Odeleite stream, a tributary of the Guadiana river.
“It could take four to five years (to complete). We’ll have a year (to develop) the project, a few more months for the Environmental Impact if everything goes well and there will be an international public tender for the work, plus a phase of litigation for the bidders, which is to be expected” estimated the president of the irrigators’ association when asked by the PSD president about the deadline for the project’s conclusion.
Macário Correia explained that the Foupana stream is around 100 kilometres long and sees rainfall of 800 millimetres a year in the area, which would increase the surface reserves available to cope with the drought affecting the Algarve.
The former mayor of Faro and Tavira explained that the association he chairs has obtained funding for the engineering project for the future Foupana dam and defended the environmental viability of the project, which the association will fight for.
“We took on this fight because there was hesitation on the part of the regional authorities, and we’re not letting go of the issue,” said Macário Correia, considering that the project is “consensual”.
In terms of costs, and despite the fact that they have not yet been precisely defined, Macário Correia said the figure will be between €60 and €80 million.
After visiting the site, Luís Montenegro’s entourage went on to lunch in Alcoutim and were due to end their tour of the Algarve in Santa Rita, in the municipality of Vila Real de Santo António, where they were to meet with the Association of Users of the National Road 125, which is calling for the urgent requalification of the stretch between Vila Real de Santo António and Olhão.