Odeleite dam – picture taken on September 3, 2020 / Photo: NUNO DE SANTOS LOUREIRO

Government to invest €200 million to fight drought in Algarve

Portugal’s Recovery and Resilience Plan which was delivered to Brussels by Prime Minister António Costa last week has €200 million set aside for fighting the Algarve’s chronic water shortage issues between 2021 and 2026.

Reports Correio da Manhã tabloid, the money will be spent according to priority actions outlined in the Algarve’s Regional Plan of Water Efficiency (Plano Regional de Eficiência Hídrica do Algarve, or PREHAlg).

There are several projects on the table, the tabloid adds.

The construction of a desalination plant is one of them, as well as the construction of new dams, particularly the Foupana dam between Alcoutim and Castro Marim which has been in the pipeline since the 1970s.

The government is also studying the possibility of obtaining water from the Guadiana River by linking it to the Odeleite dam – a project which would require an agreement with Spain, CM points out.

Linking the Santa Clara (Odemira) and Odelouca (Silves) dams is another option, albeit an unlikely one as the former is “already facing difficulties in meeting demand for irrigation needs”.

Collecting water from the branching canals of the Rogil waterway, which would otherwise make its way into the sea, is also a possibility, as well as the use of recycled water (wastewater that has been treated) for irrigation.

The Algarve’s drought situation was dubbed “dramatic” earlier this month by António Pina, Olhão Mayor and President of the Algarve Municipalities Association (AMAL) (click here).

“If it doesn’t rain more this autumn than it did last year, we will be in a very, very, very difficult situation. If it doesn’t rain as much as it normally does in autumn and winter, we will most certainly have to implement restrictions by the end of next year,” he told SIC.

In fact, the Eastern Algarve’s Odeleite and Beliche dams are very close to reaching historically low water levels.

Some of the Algarve’s mayors, including Pina, have called for the construction of new dams, although Portugal’s Environment Minister said in February that building more dams won’t solve the Algarve’s water issues and that the solution lies in more efficient water management as well as the construction of a desalination plant.

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