Water reserves at risk

The region’s water supplies could dry up, unless work on the Odelouca dam project recommences. The stark warning came from Artur Ribeiro, director of the Águas do Algarve company, who says that, if work on the Odelouca dam does not restart, the region will not have sufficient reserves of water to survive one more year of drought.

Residents in the Barlavento region (western Algarve) currently receive water from the Barragens of Funcho and Bravura, while those in the Sotavento (eastern Algarve), receive water from the Barragem at Odeleite. But Ribeiro says that water from those three infrastructures would not be enough to carry the region through another ‘dry’ year.

Ribeiro criticised the way work had halted on the Odelouca dam and underlined the urgent necessity of completing the project. Construction ceased last year, following a complaint by ecologists from the League for the Protection of Nature (LPN). But a source from the Ministry of Environment said that contacts are currently being made with the European Commission in a bid to restart work on the dam.

Algarveans currently consume 66 million cubic metres of water every year, split equally between the Barlavento and Sotavento, an amount considered excessive given the population of the Algarve, which is 400,000. “We are dealing with a particularly high level of consumption arising from the peculiar seasonal nature of the region,” explained Ribeiro. “In August, we have to supply three times the amount of water consumed at other times of the year. This is because the population of the region also trebles during that holiday month.”