Câmara officials at Vila Real de Santo António have announced a public tender for the construction of a new water treatment centre in the eastern Algarve, the only area of the region without such a facility. The work, estimated to cost 1.5 million euros, will complete the system of waste water treatment centres in the region and will put an end to the practice of drains emptying straight into the sea. Although it was originally forecast to begin in 2002, successive legal delays and the necessity of a study on the environmental impact of the scheme delayed the project and it is now estimated that the work will not start until the beginning of next year and will not be completed until 2006. Valentina Calixto, vice-president of the Algarve’s Regional Development and Co-ordination Commission, confirmed that the work should have been concluded more than a year ago, attributing the responsibility for the delay to new legislation that made the environmental study obligatory. The new ETAR will be situated at the north of the city, near the River Guadiana, which the contaminated water will be emptied into after treatment. According to a câmara source, the technicians took special note of the proximity of the marsh at Castro Marim, a designated protected ecological zone, when they were planning the sewage plant.