Rebuilt dike in the Ria de Alvor was inaugurated by the Secretary of State for Fisheries

Works were claimed by nurseries and by some of the residents

The Secretary of State for Fisheries, with the President of Docapesca and the Mayor of Portimão – Photo: Elisabete Rodrigues | Sul Informação

The Espargueira dam, in the heart of the Ria de Alvor, which had burst in 2019, causing salt water flooding in the interior and even rural paths, as well as damage to nurseries, was rehabilitated by Docapesca, in an investment of around 130 thousand euros.

The work, which was ready since the end of last July, was officially inaugurated on Wednesday, November 10, by the Secretary of State for Fisheries and by the president of Docapesca, a publicly owned company responsible for the intervention.

The work aimed at "strengthening protection against flooding, regulating the flooding of adjacent areas and guaranteeing the protection of an ecosystem rich in avifauna."

In statements to the Sul Informação, Sérgio Faias, chairman of the Board of Directors of Docapesca, admitted that there had been “a degradation of the dyke over the years”. "This is an area that came under our jurisdiction in 2014, but which we did not know about, nor did we follow closely, and we were faced with the deterioration of the situation in 2019, having found that there was a need for intervention".

However, taking into account that the dyke is located in the middle of the Ria de Alvor, a wetland of great importance, «it was necessary to articulate this intervention with the various entities, because there were issues of civil protection, nature conservation, with the ICNF and with the APA, which had to be agreed and established'.

"We had many doubts about the best solution, not least because there were those who said that the best would be to renaturalize" the area, in other words, not rebuilding the section of the dike that had collapsed. “We had meetings with the various entities and the solution was chosen to rebuild the dam, it was thought that this was the best solution and the one that best defended the populations”.


New dike is already being used by hikers, fishermen and bird watchers – Photo: Elisabete Rodrigues | Sul Informação


During the visit to the rebuilt dike, at the end of the morning of last Wednesday, that the Sul Informação followed, Sérgio Faias explained to Secretary of State Teresa Coelho and Isilda Gomes, the mayor of Portimão, the «difficulties of the work».

«There was a need to use a small truck, which brought the material», earth and stones, to the place of the leak and then «I had to go backwards» to get out. “In the middle of that, there were two tides that undid the work that had already been done”, which even increased the costs of the intervention by “another 50%”.

It was only "in April 2021 that it was restarted and carried to the end", with the rehabilitation of the dam completed at the end of July.

Teresa Coelho admitted the extra costs, but insisted on stressing that «what matters is that the work was done, in order to guarantee the safety and interests of the population and the environment».

Mayor Isilda Gomes underlined that this was "a much-desired work", which "concerned the nurserymen in this area". “We received contacts in the Chamber several times, from nurserymen asking for this intervention urgently”.

The issue, according to what our newspaper found, is that the clam and oyster farms, especially those located in Vale da Lama, on the banks of Lagos da Ria de Alvor, were affected by the greater volume of water entering and leaving the area. interior before defended by the dike.

For his part, José Vitorino, president of the Parish Council of Mexilhoeira Grande, recalled that "there were people who could not get home" because the access roads "were flooded with one meter of water". Despite the warnings about non-circulation on these roads during high tide, there were, even so, many motorists who insisted… and had to be removed from the water by trailer.


Area of ​​the Espargueira dyke that threatens to break open – Photo: Elisabete Rodrigues | Sul Informação


Despite the 130 thousand euros spent rebuilding the part of the dam that had collapsed in 2019, the truth is that, a little further on, there is another area of ​​the structure that, more year, less year, more month, less month, may also open a hole. The president of Docapesca guaranteed that the problem had already been identified.

In this case, threats to the dyke have been heightened by the advance of the Vale da Lama nurseries, which have been gaining space within the lagoon area, in an extension duly licensed by Docapesca.

But this advance, according to an expert consulted by our newspaper, "altered the dynamics of the estuary" and caused the disappearance of a kind of beach, a sand area, which existed next to the dike, protecting it from the waters. How the structure will hold up is something that will be seen in the future.

Indifferent to these questions are the many bird watchers and hikers who use the dam to make a journey on the Ria de Alvor. Shortly before the official opening of the works, a group of eight foreign hikers, binoculars on their chests and a backpack on their backs, walked along the top of the structure, all happy.


Photos: Elisabete Rodrigues | Sul Informação