Desalination plant receives favorable, but conditional, Environmental Impact Statement

The desalination plant is one of the planned investments in the Algarve Water Efficiency Plan

Photos: Pedro Lemos | Sul Informação

The future desalination plant, to be built near Rocha Baixinha beach (Albufeira), had a Favorable Environmental Impact Statement, but conditioned, on the part of the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA). The decision was known this Wednesday, April 3, and one of the concerns highlighted is related to brine. 

In total, the APA defines more than 100 compensation measures that must be implemented both in the execution project and during construction.

One of the main concerns is related to the “impacts of brine rejection on marine ecosystems”, says the APA.

For example, in the measures to be included in the implementation phase, the Portuguese Environment Agency asks that measures be defined “in order to protect the presence of threatened flora not identified by the Environmental Impact Study, namely the species Armeria macrophylla (vulnerable) present in the final route of the brine routing circuit to the sea, namely with the retreat of the attack well outside the pine tree area».

Furthermore: the APA requests that, during the execution of the work, the stability of the cliff is ensured during the construction of the brine rejection duct, adopting “all safety measures”.

This assessment, says the Portuguese Environment Agency in a press release, took “into consideration the results of the study of the spatial influence of the dispersion of saline effluent in the sea presented, and despite considering that the impacts are not significant, it was incorporated into the decision a set of requirements aimed at safeguarding these possible impacts, as well as the development of possible additional minimization measures».

In relation to dredging, which will be necessary, it must be ensured that they are always accompanied by an archaeologist at the dredge and another at the place “where the sediments are deposited”.

The APA also refers to the need to have an emergency plan for a possible earthquake or tsunami.

To arrive at this Environmental Impact Statement, the Portuguese Environment Agency guarantees that it “took into account the concerns expressed during public consultation”, namely by environmental associations such as Quercus, LPN, Almargem and Glocal.

Thus, given that the environmental impact assessment procedure took place in the preliminary study phase, there will be «a second moment of evaluation in the execution project phase, with a view to verifying the environmental compliance of the execution project with the DIA now issued» .

Furthermore, licensing and the beginning of construction of the Desalination Station can only occur after issuing the environmental compliance decision for the implementation project.

The desalination plant is one of the planned investments in the Algarve Water Efficiency Plan.

The plant will cost 90 million euros, with support from the Recovery and Resilience Plan (PRR), and will have a capacity of up to 24 cubic hectometers.

The decision resulted from the assessment carried out by the Assessment Committee set up for this purpose, coordinated by the APA and including representatives from the APA itself, the Algarve Regional Coordination and Development Committee, Cultural Heritage, the Algarve Regional Health Administration, the Institute of Conservation of Nature and Forests, the National Laboratory of Energy and Geology, the General Directorate of Natural Resources, Security and Maritime Services, the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto and the Center for Applied Ecology Prof. Baeta Neves from the Higher Institute of Agronomy.

The opinion can be consulted here


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