Yesterday (September 2) was a historic day for Vila Real de Santo António – the municipality’s waste water is no longer being dumped into the Guadiana river, following a record €60-million investment.
Another huge step forward is that nearly 100% of the municipality is now linked to the local water supply and sanitation networks.
The completion of the project saw Secretaries of State Paulo Lemos and Pedro Lomba visiting VRSA yesterday, accompanied by mayor Luís Gomes, who stressed the “importance” of the project.
“If we hadn’t done anything, we would face hefty fines from the European Union,” he said.
In fact, just last year VRSA and Matosinhos (in the north of Portugal) were at risk of costing the country around €4.5 million worth of fines over “inadequate waste water treatment”.
And as these kinds of fines are now paid by local councils as opposed to the government, it would end up costing VRSA a lot of money, he said, not to mention the environmental impact the waste water had on the river.
Luís Gomes also stressed the work carried out in places like the north of Vila Nova de Cacela, most of which still didn’t have access to tap water and wasn’t linked to the municipality’s sanitation network.
In a nutshell, the project saw around €61 million being invested by the municipality since 2005 – half of which was covered by the government’s POVT programme.
“Even in difficult financial times, the municipality found ways to finance the project and carry out VRSA’s largest public investment ever,” the mayor said.
The work saw 17 new pumping stations being built, as well as 34km worth of new sewage pipes.
Also on the construction list are 33kms of water pipes and four new water reservoirs, which hopefully will “drastically reduce the number of ruptured pipes and water shortages that frequently happened in the summer”.
Renovations were also carried out in some of VRSA’s existing water pipes, which were built over 50 years ago.
In a short statement cited by VRSA council, Secretary of State for Environment Paulo Lemos said that the investment “will help the environmental balance of the country, as well as create conditions for the touristic development of the Algarve”.