São Brás de Alportel mayor Vítor Guerreiro

São Brás de Alportel calls for construction of new dams in Algarve

São Brás de Alportel Council has unanimously approved a motion calling for the construction of at least two new dams in the Algarve.

The motion comes at a time when the region is facing a level of drought that ranges from “severe” to “extreme”.

In the motion, Mayor Vítor Guerreiro says it is urgent to take measures to adapt to climate change and mitigate its effects while at the same time increase the region’s water storage capacity.

To do this, the government should “reevaluate the viability of new dams and promote their construction, namely the Alportel (or Monte da Ribeira) dam”. This dam is included in the Algarve’s Intermunicipal Climate Change Adaptation Plan, and plans to build it started in 1981, although they never moved forward.

Guerreiro believes that this dam would “contribute to the recovery of the (Algarve’s) hydraulic system and would strengthen the capacity to store water to be used by farmers and, eventually, for human consumption too”.

He also says that the damn would help create more water reservoirs in an area that is “strongly dependent on tourism” and would help alleviate the pressures coming from agricultural areas that need regular water supply.

Another argument for the dam, says Guerreiro, is that it would “be important to reduce the ecological footprint associated with food production, to help supply firefighting helicopters in the Serra do Caldeirão range, an important area for the production of cork, and to help control the floods caused by extreme cases of rain in the Alportel stream and Gilão river caused by the lack of control of their water levels.”

The motion also supports the construction of the Foupana dam in Castro Marim. Last month, Castro Marim Mayor Francisco Amaral also said that the construction of a third major dam in the municipality would be “extremely important” to help the area cope during these times of extreme drought (click here).

“All in all, the construction of new dams would contribute to the future sustainability of the Algarve and be a boost to the social and economic development of the region,” said Vítor Guerreiro.

According to Portugal’s Sea and Atmosphere Institute (IPMA), the whole country was experiencing some form of drought in September, with nearly half of Portugal facing “moderate drought” (48.4%) and nearly one third of the country facing “severe drought” (32.7%). A small part of the country (3.4%) is experiencing “extreme drought”.

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