In a statement, PAS, which groups together environmental and heritage protection associations, showed its “disagreement with information that the transfer of water from Pomarão and the construction of one (or more) desalination plants are solutions to the Algarve’s water problem”.
The capture of water from the Guadiana river at Pomarão, in the municipality of Mértola, district of Beja, and the construction of desalination plants are included in the Resilience and Recovery Plan (RRP) presented by the Government, but the platform considers that these projects will only serve to feed irrigated agriculture and increase the cost of water for the population.
The platform called on the population to contest these solutions during the public consultation of the RRP, which is underway until the end of February, and considered that although the lack of water in the region is “structural”, there are alternatives that allow to ensure its necessary supply “until the end of the century”.
In the same note, the platform acknowledged that the Algarve is witnessing a “decrease in general rainfall and consequently in its water reserves” and criticised the increase in irrigated agriculture, like avocados, which are already second in the region after citrus fruits.
The RRP allocates a sum of €200 million for the implementation of the Algarve Regional Water Efficiency Plan, providing for plans to reduce water losses in the urban sector, increase efficiency in the agricultural sector and the available capacity of reservoirs, promote the use of treated wastewater and the desalination of seawater.
PAS recalled that the Intermunicipal Climate Change Adaptation Plan (PIAAC) of the Algarve Intermunicipal Community (AMAL) already establishes “several scenarios and proposes the monitoring of water resources and the adoption of solutions according to the evolution of the situation”.
Among these measures, he exemplified, are the improvement of infrastructures, the fight against network losses and the reduction of water needs in urban green spaces, but also the investment in “water retention techniques”, such as artificial lakes, dams, retention basins or reservoirs, or the reuse of wastewater.
“If the climate scenario turns out to be the least serious, these measures will be sufficient to maintain current water availability until the end of the century,” said the platform.
PAS also criticised the Government for advancing with two solutions that “ignored” civil society and the PIAAC, arguing that water capture in Pomarão would be a project “funded by public money” and “intended for private agricultural use”, ending up being “marketed cheaper than that obtained through desalination”.
“As for desalination, to be implemented by private companies, it will make the cubic metre of water available for domestic consumption for a higher price, despite the fact that water is a good indispensable to life and therefore a right guaranteed by the State to its citizens,” it criticised.
Therefore, PAS called on civil society to contest the two projects that are included in the PRR, the planning instrument that the Government will take to Brussels to obtain funding from the European Union for economic recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic.
The platform is made up of the associations and movements A Rocha, Água é Vida, Almargem, Associação Faro 1540, Civis, Glocal Faro, Quercus Algarve and Regenerar-te.
Portugal’s Recovery and Resilience Plan, to access post-crisis EU Covid-19 funds, provides for 36 reforms and 77 investments in the social, climate and digitalisation areas, totalling €13.9 billion in grants.
After a draft presented to the European Commission last October, and a process of talks with Brussels, the Portuguese government last week placed the preliminary and summarised version of the Recovery and Resilience Plan in public consultation.
It beggars belief tbat these clowns are considering desalination as a solution to the water supply problems in the Algarve...There is more water in Central and North Portugal than could ever be used in the Algarve. A simple pipeline or two - 36 or 42 inch would keep all the reservoirs full and provide sufficient water for irrigation and human consumption year round. It seems that corruption and apathy abound in Central and Local government prevents the simple solutions. The topography North to South would just need a few booster pumping stations to keep the pipelines amply full year round???
By Edward N A Fowles from Algarve on 28 Feb 2021, 21:49
It seems that PAS is objecting, not to the methods of obtaining water but to the entities creating the infrastructure and the end use of the water itself. Surely these must therefore be the points of attack. The work should be done by government agencies, and the water made available to householders.
By David Littlewood from Algarve on 01 Mar 2021, 10:52
A new form of desalination process is being considered for Southern England.
Lowest cost, environmentally harmless TELESIS.
By Ronald Daniel from UK on 01 Mar 2021, 12:40
Everyone living in the Algarve should take note of these plans which are far from being environmentally sustainable. These huge projects have been put forward to satisfy the growing needs of large-scale agriculture, golf and other leisure activities. The only impact on ordinary households will be a higher water bill.
We know the planet is already groaning under the unscrupulous exhaustion of its natural resources. Instead of adding to the reckless agenda, isn't it time we respect our environment and focus our efforts on using the available water efficiently and prudently?
By Annie from Algarve on 04 Mar 2021, 13:13
Keep it simple and let nature be the solution. Get rid of the thirsty eucalyptus plantations that remove huge of amounts of water from the landscape and replant native tree species. There's no time left to waste - we need to remember that natural systems regulate water levels and purify water perfectly fine when not interfered with my man. The PM himself, as reported in The News a few days ago, spoke of the need to look after native forests. Unfortunately, Mr Costa stopped short of naming the main culprit responsible for the dramatic lowering of Portugal's water table - eucalyptus plantations. Why not use the 7 Billion euros allocated recently to improve forests by spending the money on tackling the march of this destructive mono-culture. It's been spreading dramatically over the whole country in the last 40 years. Stop renewing the licences to the companies who plant these trees and we will all sleep better at night without the year round threat of wildfire they pose. We can turn around our landscapes at a stoke, and we must if we are to stop the desertifcation of the Algarve. In this way we can have the best water retainment system for FREE - it's called eco-restoration-plus many other benefits including a beautiful landscape to attract more tourists.
Jo Carey - Oliveira do Hospital
By Jo Carey from Beiras on 25 Mar 2021, 14:36
Some years ago Israel developed technology that reduced the cost of desalination by 60%. Now it has a surplus of freah water. 25% of its fresh water is desalinated sea water. This technology has been applied in many other countries. Has it been adopted in Partugal? Are the Portuguese stupid?
By eingriff from Lisbon on 27 Mar 2021, 16:38