People living close to the River Mira are in uproar today as government entity AB Mira (standing for Associação de Beneficiários da Mira) has arbitrarily blocked off the water supply to a natural haven, but kept going with supplies to intensive greenhouse explorations on the Costa Vicentina.
“They are literally killing the wildlife of Santa Clara valley”, rural tourism promoter Frank McClintock tells us, “while they pump out 900 liters from the dam per second 24-hours a day to supply the greenhouses.
“Only a few days ago I was taking photographs of otters, Kingfishers and Golden Orioles on that river. This is an environmental crime…”
Mr McClintock, who has been running a popular birding retreat and guesthouse beside Santa Clara dam since the 80s, is passionate about the destruction taking place in his area.
He has recently been posting regular updates over social media to show the devastating effects intensive agriculture along the Costa Vicentina has had on water levels of the Santa Clara dam. Water has been falling consistently since the government green-lighted hectares of plastic-covered greenhouses. Now this latest assault.
Fellow nature enthusiasts and locals have also been in touch with the Resident to register dismay while the social media page of NGO Clara has posted information from the local parish council.
Says its latest post: “The AB Mira is behaving like a mafia association… they are killing the river”.
The group is encouraging all local property owners to “organise a demonstration outside the AB Mira’s headquarters in Odemira” to demand water flow is restored.
Meantime, Santa Clara parish council has denounced the situation to every competent entity as an “imminent environmental catastrophe”. It is pressuring the environment ministry (to which AB Mira answers), informing locals that the latter is holding the region to ransom.
To restore water flow through the summer, AB Mira has asked the parish council to pay €13,576.
“The real intentions of authorities that manage water supplies are becoming clear”, says parish council president Fernando Peixeiro.
As this text went online it was rumoured that APA, the Portuguese environment agency, has demanded that AB Mira restore water to the Mira river immediately.
As Frank McClintock explains at no point in this attack have supplies to berry and salad greenhouses been disrupted. Local smallholdings however have been nothing like as fortunate – a number having no access to water at all, he says.