Odeleite dam – picture taken on September 3, 2020 / Photo: NUNO DE SANTOS LOUREIRO

“The situation is dramatic”: eastern Algarve dams nearing historic lows

The Eastern Algarve’s Odeleite and Beliche dams are very close to reaching historically low water levels.

Data from the National System of Water Resources (SNIRH) shows that the amount of water stored at the two dams is at its lowest since 2005. And if it doesn’t rain at least as much as it usually does in the Algarve this autumn and winter, the region could see restrictions being put in place as soon as next summer.

“The situation is dramatic,” Olhão Mayor and President of the Algarve Municipalities Association (AMAL), António Pina, told SIC last week.

“If it doesn’t rain more this autumn than it did last year, we will be in a very, very, very difficult situation. If it doesn’t rain as much as it normally does in autumn and winter, we will most certainly have to implement restrictions by the end of next year,” he added.

While the government is planning to invest €228 million until 2026 to reduce water losses, the region’s mayors have consistently called for the construction of more dams.

Desalination – the process of turning salt water into fresh water – is also viewed as an alternative solution.

Meantime, Algarve business association Algfuturo and the University of the Algarve will host a debate about “Water and Society” on Saturday (October 17), starting at 9am at the Penha Campus.

A number of key speakers have been confirmed, including Joaquim Peres (President of regional water authority Águas do Algarve), Pedro Coelho (Regional Administrator of the Portuguese Environmental Agency), Pedro Valadas Monteiro (Regional Director of Agriculture and Fisheries), José Carlos Rolo (Albufeira Mayor), João Fernandes (President of Algarve Tourism Board) and Elidérico Viegas (President of Algarve Hotelier Association AHETA).

The debate will be streamed live online.

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