Water crisis

news: Water crisis

THE DELAY in constructing the Odelouca dam is obliging Barlavento câmaras and Águas do Algarve, the company responsible for supplying water to the public, to resort to boreholes in order to guarantee sufficient water for use by the general public. If this is not done, the western Algarve’s boroughs will be faced with a serious problem.

Adding to the current water crisis, this winter is proving to be poor in terms of the reservoirs being refilled. According to the Lagoa Câmara President, José Inácio, the situation is worrying: “We must preserve our underground water reserves and not deplete them. For this reason, it is absolutely essential that the Odelouca dam is completed.”

Lagoa forced to use boreholes

José Inácio gives the example of his câmara which has been forced to use three boreholes in order to meet the public demand, since Águas do Algarve “supplied less water last year than in 2003”. Boreholes may soon be required in Silves too, where the câmara has already been forced to purchase water from the Instituto de Desenvolvimento Rural e Hidráulica which extracts water for agricultural purposes.

Future of Odelouca dam

depends on next government

Speaking at a recent meeting, José Mendes Bota, Algarve leader for the PSD (Social Democrats) Party, commented on the delay: “Around 35 million euros were put into the government’s investment and development plan (PIDDAC) for 2005, to fund the Funcho-Odelouca water system. This plan was approved as part of the State budget by Santana Lopes’ government. These works are urgent and extremely necessary. They must be made a priority. It will be a crime against the Algarve if the government that is in power following the election on February 20 does not grant this amount, and if these works fail to go ahead.”

Work on the Odelouca dam was stopped in 2003 due to a complaint from environmental group, Liga para a Protecção da Natureza, which succeeded in its bid to freeze the 65 million euros of European Community funding for the project.

At the moment, the water supplied to the Barlavento area, with the exception of Monchique and Aljezur which, as yet, are not served by the system, is being derived from the Bravura and Funcho dams, which currently stand at only 20 per cent of their capacity.

More rain urgently required

Environment Minister, Luís Nobre Guedes, recently made the shocking announcement that, if there isn’t sufficient rain over the next few months, the Algarve would be forced to ration its water. At the time of the announcement, Macário Correia, president of the Junta Metropolitana do Algarve, refuted the claim and guaranteed that there would not be a lack of water in the region. Meanwhile, Artur Ribeiro, director of Águas do Algarve, is saying that it is going to be “very difficult to support another dry year”.