Producers from Odemira and Aljezur insist on a desalination plant to solve water shortages

«We need to move forward» with this solution «because the only source of water we have is [the] Santa Clara dam»

The association of fruit growers of Odemira and Aljezur insists on the construction of a desalination plant in this territory, following a study that points to «the deterioration and limitation of supply to the Santa Clara dam», in the municipality of Odemira.

"We need to move forward" with this solution "because the only source of water we have is [the] Santa Clara dam" and "all the data points to very sharp drops in precipitation" in this territory, said the president of the Horticulturists' Association, Fruit growers and flower growers in the municipalities of Odemira and Aljezur (AHSA) Luís Mesquita Dias.

Speaking to the Lusa agency, regarding the conclusions of the preliminary feasibility study for the implementation of a desalination station in the Mira Irrigation Perimeter region, the person responsible argued that, given the current drought scenario, it is necessary to speed up processes.

«The urgency is very great and the authorities have to be quick so that the licensing processes, which are always very long and bureaucratic in this country, despite respecting everything they have to respect, are agile», he stated.

The preliminary study, completed «about two months ago», entitled “Atlantic Water for Southwest Alentejo”, highlights the urgency of the situation in the region of the Mira Irrigation Perimeter, pointing to «the deterioration and limitation of supply» from the dam of Santa Clara», in Odemira.

«Currently, the infrastructure only has four to five years of maximum water supply guarantee, based on an annual agricultural consumption of 12 million cubic meters and an annual rainfall of 350mm», highlighted the AHSA in a statement.

According to the association, the study suggests «an onshore desalination plant and a reservoir connected to the Mira Beneficiaries Association (ABM) network», in an investment of 200 million euros.

The document addresses three solutions for the construction of the future plant, which will have the capacity to desalinate 25 million cubic meters of water/year, between the municipalities of Odemira and Sines, although there are two most likely scenarios.

«From a cost point of view, the ideal location of the desalination plant should be in Odemira, as close to the coast as possible, but it will not be ideal from an environmental point of view or ease of licensing», admitted Luís Mesquita Dias, adding that «everything points” to the municipality of Odemira, “but outside the Natural Park” of Southwest Alentejo and Costa Vicentina.

The AHSA study also evaluated the possibility of using the desalination station planned for Sines, with the aim of serving industrial units, the project of which is in charge of the company Águas de Portugal.

The president of AHSA admitted the possibility of moving forward with «some additional studies to evaluate the excess cost or savings that bringing water from Sines to Odemira could represent».

«On the one hand, we will have the advantage of having a desalination plant that will be built anyway and the fixed assets shared by other entities and, on the other, we have 60 kilometers of water to the south», he argued.

If the investment in Sines does not materialize and the location of Odemira moves forward, the person responsible revealed that AHSA is “trying to make EDIA [Empresa de Desenvolvimento e Infraestruturas de Alqueva] the centralizing entity for the entire project” and to whom already the study was presented.

To overcome «some statutory limitations, in the last Council of Ministers of the previous Government, it was decided to study the scope of action of EDIA so that [it] could not only carry out the works in Alqueva, but also manage irrigation perimeters», he indicated .

«We are waiting, at all times, to be received by the ministers of Agriculture and the Environment and, depending on the results of these two hearings, we will see if the desalination plant and its way of building, tendering and managing lean more towards the side of EDIA or to Águas de Portugal», he added.