Farmers from Silves and Lagoa demonstrate today to demand connection to the Fennel adductor

Farmers from the Association of Irrigants and Beneficiaries of Silves, Lagoa and Portimão will meet this afternoon by the Dam […]

irrigation modernizationFarmers from the Association of Irrigators and Beneficiaries of Silves, Lagoa and Portimão will meet this afternoon at the Arade Dam to "dispute the lack of connection of water to the rehabilitation work of the irrigation perimeter".

The point is that the works to modernize the irrigation of the Arade Dam, which took place throughout 2015, are completed, but the structure, which results from an investment of 8,5 million euros, has not yet come into operation because the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA) is slow to authorize the connection to the Funcho Dam pipeline.

In addition to the damage that this delay causes to 700 farmers, who cannot start their crops because they do not have water available, José Vilarinho, president of that Association of Irrigants, points out that community funding for the works may be at stake. maximum completion is about to be reached.

The question that arises, as explained by the Ministry of the Environment in the response to the request by deputy Paulo Sá (PCP), received on January 10, is that, despite recognizing the "relevance" of the project, "the use of the Funcho pipeline -Alcantarilha as the source of pressurized water for the Silves, Lagoa and Portimão Irrigation Perimeter obliges, due to its particularities, the consideration of various technical, economic and formal/administrative aspects».

The adductor, which is connected to the two reservoirs of Odelouca and Funcho, has so far been «used only to transport water for public supply» to the Barlavento Algarvio. Furthermore, 'by hydraulic constraints', it cannot transport 'water from these two sources' at the same time.

However, the Ministry of Environment adds in its response, due to "commitments made to the European Commission, in the scope of the approval process for the Odelouca dam, the water from its reservoir cannot be used for other uses besides public supply". That is, they cannot be used for irrigation.

The solution to this imbroglio could be the definition of a “model for the joint use of the adductor”, which would serve to transport, alternately, water from Odelouca for public supply and that from Fennel for irrigation.

However, this possible solution, added the Government, requires "considering the technical and financial consequences in the Water Treatment Plant of Alcantarilha, resulting from the change in the quality of the water, which is different in the two reservoirs".

It would also be necessary to "prevent the reopening of any Community disputes".

Due to the “complexity” of what is in question, the assessment was not yet, on 10 January, and seems to still not be, now, completed. This in spite of, in the answer that he gave to the request of the Algarvian deputy of the PCP; the Ministry of the Environment ensured that the issue was “on the priority list of the Portuguese Environment Agency”.

The project to modernize the irrigation of the Arade Dam, promoted by the Association of Irrigants and Beneficiaries of Silves, Lagoa and Portimão, represented a final investment of 8,5 million euros and is mainly aimed at replacing the open-air channels, thus reducing the waste of water. It also includes the replacement of irrigation by gravity, by pressure irrigation.

The water comes from the Funcho Dam, from where it will be transported, through a main pipeline, to the municipality of Lagoa, and, through secondary pipelines, distributed through Silves.

Taking into account that the irrigation modernization project took a long time to be defined and was approved by national and international bodies, the Association of Irrigants and farmers do not understand now why the issue of the use of the adductor was not resolved before.