Feasibility study for €4.5B Tagus irrigation project

By TPN/Lusa, in World · 30-06-2019 11:00:00 · 0 Comments

The total projected investment is €4.5 billion, more than was spent on the giant Alqueva dam, reservoir and irrigation project in the Alentejo region.

Portugal’s Ministry of Agriculture is to launch a public tender for an initial feasibility study for a project, involving projected investment of €4.5 billion, to transfer water from the River Tagus to the West, Ribatejo and Setúbal regions for irrigation of farmland and other purposes.

The ministry has decided to take the lead despite the fact that the project was submitted by civil society and has no guaranteed sources of financing, and that it is not known if there is sufficient water, what the cost-benefit ratio of the project is and whether it is viable from an environmental point of view, the source said.

The group of specialists who put forward the project this month created an association, + TEJO, whose declared aim is the promotion of the sustainable development of the Tagus, Jorge Froes, the agronomist and hydraulic engineer who leads it told Lusa.

The specialists believe that the association will be a more effective interlocutor for the government and potential investors and partners who want to team up with the project.

The new association has scheduled its first general assembly for 8 July, at which its first officers are to be elected.

The aim of the Tagus project is to use water from the river to irrigate some 300,000 hectares of agricultural land: 240,000 in the Ribatejo, 40,000 in the West region and 20,000 around Setúbal.

The experts involved believe that the Tagus may have water in sufficient quantity and quality to meet the various uses foreseen for it, if dams are built along it and its tributaries, along with new reservoirs, to add to the existing ones, as well as distribution network and pumping stations.

The dams could be removed in winter, so as to avoid flooding, and would allow boats to pass through.

The water would be used mainly for agriculture, energy production, fishing and aquaculture and tourism, making the Tagus fully navigable and so boosting river traffic.

The project aims to combat drought and the effects of climate change, which have in recent years reduced the river’s flow in summer.

In January, the Confederation of Farmers of Portugal (CAP) came out in support of the project, citing the need for water of farmers in the regions in question. It has expressed concern that the project was not been included in the National Investment Plan for the period to 2030.

The minister of agriculture, Luís Capoulas Santos, has said that the project was no more than a "visionary idea", while saying it was that “positive” that civil society had come up with such an initiative.


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