PAS wonders why authorities found desalination so 'urgent' just when PRR funding came along...

Desalination: Sustainable water platform highlights all reasons why it is not answer for Algarve

Doesn’t even comply with ‘do no harm’ terms of PRR funding…

Sustainable water platform PAS has done its bit to highlight all the reasons why a desalination plant (or plants) in the Algarve are not the answer to issues of drought.

Government mantra has always been that ‘desalination plants are vital’ to responding to the region’s lack of rainfall – and aren’t we lucky they can be funded using PRR (plan for resilience and recovery) money. 

But there is so much more to consider, not least the devastating environmental effects of desalination plants.

Before the public participation process closed on December 19, environmentalists stressed how the plan was essentially seeking to provide the same quantity of water that is lost every single minute/hour/day/ week through leaks and poor maintenance, “therefore, if the losses were solved, we would have almost all the water needed by the domestic sector – 80 hm3 per year”, without resorting to desalination”. 

Today PAS has sent out its 15-page technical ‘disagreement’ filed under the process, and given media stations a brief run-down as to why desalination may be a convenient ‘buzz word’, but it is “not an efficient alternative or (even) necessary”.

Indeed, the platform recalls that the “construction of a desalination plant” was never considered to be urgent UNTIL the PRR and all its millions of euros ‘came through’… 

“It is therefore pertinent to ask at what point all the short-term measures” recommended in earlier water conservation programmes for the Algarve were implemented.

“Which short-term measures have been initiated and how well are they being implemented at the moment? If some of these measures are just beginning, and others have not even been started and therefore cannot yet produce results, one wonders why the desalination plant is so urgently needed. How can you say there is a need to build a desalination plant?

“The solutions that we believe are necessary to tackle water scarcity must involve proper planning, making uses compatible with existing resources, covering both surface and underground water resources, not simply increasing the supply of water, which neither prevents nor compensates for waste, misuse and systematic losses, which reach extremely high percentages in relation to total consumption. 

“The Algarve should preferably continue to implement measures to increase water efficiency in the region, by:

reducing losses in water supply systems through programmes to control and combat leaks and renovate networks;  

reducing waste and excessive water consumption through more effective inspection, monitoring and payment of consumption;  

encouraging an exponential increase in the reuse of treated wastewater for various purposes; collecting rainwater in urban areas and treating wastewater to a level that guarantees compliance with the quality objectives of the receiving environment (river, aquifer, reservoir, estuary or sea);

promoting agriculture that is suited to soil and climate conditions (climate, relief, temperature, humidity, soil type, wind and rainfall), with environmentally friendly farming practices

– renaturalisation of river and stream protection strips;

re-evaluating new projects that involve excessive water consumption (this being an issue that anyone passing yet another avocado plantation will understand);  

– involving citizens and economic agents in the rational use of water and adapting to water scarcity scenarios.

PAS does not agree with PRR funds being used for this project because, in addition to all of the above, it does not ensure compliance with the “do no significant harm” environmental requirements/objectives (DNSH, such as “sustainable use and marine resources)”.

For the detailed report submitted by PAS click here.