By PAULO SILVESTRE [email protected]
Odelouca dam is almost ready to provide much-needed water to the region.
The dam, which was approved by José Sócrates when he was Environment Minister in 2001, is set to become the main water supplier for the western Algarve, namely for the areas of Albufeira, Aljezur, Lagoa, Lagos, Monchique, Portimão, Silves, Vila do Bispo and parts of Loulé, with a capacity for storing 134 million cubic metres of water.
Águas do Algarve, the region’s water supply company, estimates the total cost of the project to be €125.7 million, and describes it “as essential to meet the needs for water in the region”.
Work on the dam, which started in 2001, was met by strong opposition from the nature protection league in Portugal (LPN), which filed a complaint with the European Commission claiming the project was being built in an area protected by the Natura 2000 network and was “seriously violating environmental laws”.
Following this, work was suspended between 2003 and 2006 and EU funds were cut.
Work resumed in 2007, solely funded by the state, after the European Commission dropped the case against Portugal following assurances from the government that it would create a series of compensatory measures to minimise the impact the dam would have on the environment.
Teresa Fernandes of Águas do Algarve told the Algarve Resident: “The work on the main body of the dam is complete as is the security of it. We still have some ongoing works associated with the access and slope stabilisation, among others.
“We are currently in the first stage of filling the reservoir, which has been monitored by civil engineers from LNEC and specialists from the institute of water, INAG. This stage should be completed during the next rainy season, if conditions are favourable. We hope that by the first half of 2012 we will be able to supply water from the dam.”
A viewing area and guided tours of the site will be available for people wanting to visit the dam.
“These will be available to the public in the near future so they can enjoy the magnificent views of the area. However, there are no plans to create a picnic area.
“Provision is also being made for information boards about access to the dam and reservoir to be put up shortly in the area,” said Teresa Fernandes, who added that for those interested in knowing more about the facilities, they intend to continue the scheduled visits.
The creation of an Iberian Lynx reproduction centre in Silves, which was inaugurated in May 2009, as well as habitats for the Bonelli’s Eagle and river species were some of the environmentally friendly measures imposed on the government to make up for the impact caused by the dam.
“Compensatory measures to minimise the impact the dam would have on the environment have been carried out and fully comply with the Odelouca Environment Programme, which has been implemented with great success and is monitored by various entities,” said Teresa Fernandes.
“The Odelouca Environment Monitoring Committee (CABO) has approved the actions taken and sends regular reports of their implementation to the European Commission.”
For further information about the dam, or to arrange a guided tour, please call 289 899 070 or visit www.aguasdoalgarve.pt.