Water quality in the Ria Formosa will improve “significantly” thanks to the new ETAR water treatment plant that opened last week in Sítio da Garganta, 2.5km east of Faro.
Attending the inauguration, environment minister João Matos Fernandes said: “Sewage will no longer be released into the Ria Formosa without previously being treated.”
The ETAR Intermunicipal de Faro-Olhão will also bring an end to the foul smells that the two previous plants (in Faro and Olhão) were known for and which had “a negative impact on nearby businesses, including hotels, as well as the lives of local residents”.
For years, shellfishermen and environmentalists complained about the Ria’s contaminated waters.
The previous plants were also considered too small and unprepared to handle the wastewater of a rapidly growing population. The works also included the renovation of seven pumping stations in Olhão and Faro.
The new water treatment plant cost €21 million and will serve around 115,000 people in Faro, Olhão and São Brás de Alportel.
A solar power station is also due to be built near the ETAR in order to power it.
Regional water authority Águas do Algarve also stressed the beauty and natural diversity of the surrounding lagoons, home to a variety of bird species which, it says, were unperturbed by the construction of the plant.
The minister concluded by saying that the opening of the waste water treatment plant was the last step of a €44 million investment plan in the region led by water authority Águas de Portugal which also included the opening of Portimão’s new ETAR in Companheira.
Olhão mayor António Pina said it was a “very happy day for Olhão and the Algarve” while Faro council also said it was “very satisfied” to finally see the ETAR open officially.