Image: Pedro Brutt Pacheco

Water in rivers of north “could be channeled south”, says top engineer

The construction of ‘transvases’ (channels) to carry water from rivers in the north of Portugal to regions in the south “could be the solution for the problem of drought” that all experts accept is here to stay.

The last few years have seen increasingly dry winters. This year’s ‘crisis’ may be more acute than most, but it is part of a pattern that needs as many solutions as possible.

According to Carlos Mineiros Aires, president of the Order of Engineers, one of these is a network of channels transferring water across the country.

“It is time to look at this solution”, he explains, “as we won’t get there simply with better water conservation or using water more efficiently”.

His idea involves transporting water every year from the Douro and Mondego rivers to the Tejo.

“We are facing a change of the climate paradigm due to climate change. It is a question of national sovereignty and the survival of our agriculture and industry”, he told says.

The top engineer is also proposing the construction of a new dam at the point where the Tejo enters Portugal (from Spain) in order to support the current (seriously compromised) Pracana dam (see image above), and maintain flow through the year.

Mineiros Aires is hoping that PRR (plan for recovery and resilience) funding will extend to the constrctuction of this new dam, which he maintains is in the national interest.

Yes, desalination must come – particularly in the Algarve, where the government has already announced a plan to construct the first plant – but ‘transvases’ are another option to ensure the sustainability of the southern ‘hydrographic basins’.

Regarding desalination, Mineiro Aires stresses Portugal has two ‘great values at hand: the sun and the wind, which can produce the energy necessary for desalination”.

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