Spain stalling dredging work to make Guadiana River “navigable” north of Alcoutim

A project to make the Guadiana River navigable between Alcoutim and Pomorão in Mértola is awaiting the ‘green light’ from Spanish authorities to move forward. So said the Ministry of the Sea following a series of questions presented by Paulo Sá, Algarve MP for the Communist Party (PCP).

The project involves a €2.2 million investment, most of which will be covered by community funding, and was first announced in 2015. The plan was to complete the works by 2017 but they have not even started yet.

The ministry’s response stated that the project developed by Portugal’s board of natural resources, security and maritime services is “completed” but continues to await feedback from Spanish environmental authorities as the river is an “international navigable channel”.

Despite the delays, the ministry hopes to begin the dredging work this year.

The project involves not only dredging work but also the renovation of ports and docks along the river.

Portugal is expected to contribute €872,000 to the total cost of the works with Spain picking up the remaining €1.3 million. Around €1.6 million will be covered by the European Union’s regional development programme FEDER.

As Paulo Sá explains, the Guadiana River was a thriving channel for ships transporting ore in the 19th century. However, the navigability of the river has deteriorated throughout the years, especially since the closure of the São Domingos mines in Mértola.