Lack of water prevents the opening of the new bathing area of ​​the Odeleite Dam

The water level currently in the Odeleite dam, the largest in the Sotavento Algarve, is around 42,09% of useful volume

The drought in the Algarve is preventing the opening of a new bathing area at the Odeleite Dam, in Castro Marim, whose water quota does not allow the placement of floating pools, the vice-president of the municipality told Lusa.

The water level currently in the Odeleite dam, the largest in the Sotavento Algarve, is around 42,09% of useful volume, insufficient value to allow the safe opening of this new bathing area, a center created by the municipality to develop the interior of the county, explained Filomena Sintra.

The area, located on a slope to the west of the village of Odeleite, is, according to the mayor, the new beach in the Algarve, but at the moment there are “no conditions to place the floating pools” to allow their use, because the access staircase to the water ends a few meters above the current water line.

“Now that we would be in the phase of putting in the final outfit and the modules for the bathrooms, for the bar, support services, and putting in the floating pools, we are faced with the reality that the height of the dam does not allow us to , safely, to place the floating pools there, because they would be too far from the stairway area of ​​the nautical activities center itself”, lamented the mayor.

According to Filomena Sintra, those responsible for the project took into account the monthly average since the dam entered into operation, and designed the staircase that will serve as a mooring point for the floating pools and will adjust to the water level, considering this history and also the predictions.

However, in the last four years, the situation of drought and lack of rain has worsened, especially in the northeast Algarve, but also in the western Algarve, conditioning the opening of the nautical activities center at the dam.

Filomena Sintra was, however, convinced that the work carried out in the region in terms of water management will increase water reserves and ensure that the dam reaches ideal levels for the use of the area by bathers.

“We believe that, with the new solutions that may exist for storage, abstraction, rationalization of water for the Algarve, that this is a problem that will not become more acute, because that would mean that we would have to rethink our Algarve”, he considered.

The vice-president also explained that, although the project is “prepared to have an oscillation in height at a level of 15 meters” when mooring the floating pools, at this moment “people would have to go down a large staircase to reach the pools” and “ that is not the objective”, because the staircase must “be at the height of the sand that was installed there”.

The mayor hopes that conditions can soon change so that the project, budgeted at around 900.000 euros, enters the exploration phase, also allowing “attracting people to the interior” of the municipality and helping the development of the area.

After several vicissitudes with approval of projects and plans, which caused delays in the work, now it is the lack of water that conditions its development and this leaves residents and local workers in disbelief as to the entry into operation of the nautical center of the Odeleite dam.

Cecília Neves works at the restaurant closest to the place where the nautical center was built and told Lusa that she believes that “it will really take a while” for that structure to start operating.

“At the beginning they talked about a river beach and now, at this moment, the population, at least, says that it will be a nautical center. Now, for sure, I don't know what it will be, but either one would be good for the business here in the area and for the restaurant”, he said.

The same source admitted that he expected the project to be ready last year, but acknowledged that "this year it is a little hard to believe" that it will be ready to receive people.

"It's taking a long time, let's see", said the employee of that restaurant, expressing the hope that it still rains and there is an improvement in water levels to allow the entry into operation of the nautical center of the Odeleite dam.

The Minister of Agriculture and Food, Maria do Céu Antunes, reported on Monday having signed the order that recognizes the drought situation in 40% of the national territory, in the south of the country.

The order was signed on Friday, after the authority had received data from the Portuguese Institute of the Sea and the Atmosphere (IPMA) attesting that in the last two months there had been no rain, there had been “three heat waves during the month of April” and have been “average and maximum temperatures well above normal”.