Location of Algarve’s first desalination plant under discussion

The location of the Algarve’s first desalination plant is already under discussion, the Algarve Municipalities Association (AMAL) has announced.

“Possible locations for the desalination plant are already being studied, namely by the municipalities and by the Águas do Algarve company, the entity responsible for this project,” AMAL said in a statement.

The announcement came after the region’s boroughs carried out an online meeting last week with Environment and Climate Action Minister, João Pedro Matos Fernandes.

The meeting took place at the request of the mayors and was also attended by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Inês dos Santos Costa, and representatives from several regional entities, such as CCDR Algarve (regional development commission); APA – ARH Algarve (regional environmental agency), Águas do Algarve (regional water company) and DRAPA (Algarve board of agriculture and fisheries).

The minister provided an update on the Algarve’s water efficiency plan (PREHA) and each of its proposed measures, which are included in Portugal’s Plan for Recovery and Resilience (PRR).

The water efficiency plan is based on six main goals – to reduce water losses in the urban sector (€35 million); to reduce water losses and increase efficiency in the agricultural sector (€17 million); to strengthen the management of water resources (€5 million); to promote the usage of treated waste water (€23 million); to increase the resilience and capacity of available water (€75 million); and to promote the desalination of seawater (€45 million).

António Pina, mayor of Olhão and president of AMAL, said he is “happy with the work already moving forward on the field”, adding that Algarve mayors are “available to help in whatever way they can” so that all measures that are considered “essential to the future of the region” are implemented.

Pina added that progress is already being made with plans to divert water from the Guadiana River to the Odeleite dam in Pomarão, as well as with the study to find a location for the desalination plant.

Minister João Pedro Matos Fernandes also guaranteed that all other measures are moving along according to plan, with some only seeing concrete measures coming into force in 2024 and 2025.

The construction of a desalination plant is not a universally-supported plan.

Last year, a group of eight environmental associations and NGOs in the Algarve publicly opposed “the construction of desalination plants and the diversion of water from the Guadiana River” as solutions to the Algarve’s chronic water shortages. The group said that projects proposed will see private companies making a profit from public funding at the cost of fundamental human needs, i.e. access to safe water. (click here)

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