Project described as “first step” towards tackling drought in Algarve
The tender for the new Foupana reservoir project in the Algarve should be launched by the end of this month, the president of the Eastern Algarve Irrigation Association, Macário Correia, told Lusa on Tuesday.
“The government has guaranteed half a million euros and the Eastern Algarve Irrigation Association, […] together with the Algarve water utility company Águas do Algarve, has already started working on the specifications so that, in the next few days, we can launch the tender for the reservoir project,” he told Lusa.
According to Macário Correia, who was secretary of state for the environment in Cavaco Silva’s government in the 1980s, this project, which is accompanied by an environmental impact study, will be “the first step” in the construction of a reservoir that will give a “boost” to the problems posed by the lack of water in the Algarve.
“Whether for urban supply, agriculture, tourism or golf, with the Foupana reservoir in place, we’ll have more peace of mind – something we don’t have at the moment,” said Macário Correia, who also chaired the Tavira and Faro town councils for 12 years.
In a statement released a few weeks ago, the Association of Beneficiaries of the Eastern Algarve Irrigation Plan (ABPRSA) recalled that four large reservoirs have been built in the Algarve in the last 40 years: Beliche in 1986, Funcho in 1993, Odeleite in 1997 and Odelouca in 2009.
Macário Correia, who since retiring from politics has dedicated himself to orange and carob production, recalled the strategy set out in the Algarve Water Efficiency Plan and the Water Pact, arguing that “we need to take advantage of the water that rains before it becomes salty”.
The president of the association of irrigators in the eastern Algarve pointed to Foupana, Alportel and Ribeira de Monchique as the first line of exploitation in the coming years, while also highlighting an ongoing project to create a desalination plant in Albufeira.
Macário Correia also took the opportunity to praise the current environment minister, Duarte Cordeiro, who he says is completely different from his predecessor, João Pedro Matos Fernandes.
“This minister has a much more positive attitude, much more dialogue and much more visionary and strategic than the previous one. The previous minister is to blame for there being no reservoirs in the Algarve,” he said, adding that Matos Fernandes “said silly things”.
The former government official criticised former Bloco de Esquerda (Left Bloc) leader Catarina Martins for having “an extraordinary view of reservoirs”, saying, according to him, that “they shouldn’t be built because the water would evaporate”.
“I don’t know what the country would be without reservoirs. Lisbon wouldn’t drink, it wouldn’t have Castelo de Bode, the Alentejo wouldn’t have irrigation, the Algarve wouldn’t drink, it would have boreholes of salt water and muddy water,” he emphasised, concluding that “reservoirs are necessary here and anywhere in the world”.
The Algarvian agricultural leader recalled that currently the five largest reservoirs in the south of the country “are all at low levels”, a “worrying” situation if it doesn’t rain until November.
On the other hand, Macário Correia accused the Algarve’s local councils of being “incoherent”, since they are using more water than last year, when there is less and less water available.
“At the moment, something that is inconsistent is that we are cutting water to agriculture, golf courses, gardens, but there are roundabouts, tarmac and pavements being watered every day,” he said.
The Foupana river is a watercourse that rises in the Serra do Caldeirão, at an altitude of 495 metres, runs through the Algarve municipalities of Alcoutim and Castro Marim and flows into the Odeleite river, just before its mouth on the right bank of the Guadiana river.