First desalination plant in the Algarve has been a success for 16 years

At its maximum capacity, the desalination plant produces 800 cubic meters per day, serving seven hotels in the Pestana Group

Visit to the Pestana Group desalination plant in Alvor – Photo: Beatriz Bento | Sul Informação

«Finally», comments hotelier Pedro Lopes about the construction of the desalination plant, in Albufeira, which will serve the entire region. The Pestana Group was the first to have an infrastructure of its kind in mainland Portugal, visited on the morning of this Thursday, July 6th, and which currently serves seven hotels in Alvor (Portimão).

The trip to the Pestana Group desalination plant was part of a series of technical visits as part of the conference “Water Resilience in the Algarve – our common purpose”, which brought together technicians from the Portuguese Environment Agency, Águas do Algarve and also the European Commission.

The idea of ​​building a desalination plant in the Algarve was born during the «2005 drought», says Pedro Lopes, administrator of the Pestana Group in the Algarve.

«We were very worried because, right then, we realized that this was not going to go well if measures were not taken», he adds.

The solution was innovative: in Porto Santo (Madeira), the hotel group had already had a desalination plant since the 80s, but on the mainland there were none.

«At the time, we made several visits: we went to the south of Spain, the Canaries, Greece and we were surprised how there was already a series of infrastructures like this in operation. Today, they have more and more and there are not enough of them”, he comments.

After the studies, the desalination plant started operating in Alvor. It was 2008 and the experience went “very well”.


Pedro Lopes, CEO of Grupo Pestana in the Algarve – Photo: Beatriz Bento | Sul Informação


In 2015, 2016, the water situation in the Algarve improved, to such an extent that the desalination plant was deactivated… until the beginning of 2023.

«I would even say that we are now in an even bigger crisis than the one in 2005 that led us to move forward with this investment», comments Pedro Lopes.

At its maximum capacity, the desalination plant produces 800 cubic meters of water per day, serving seven Pestana Group hotels, all in the Alvor area. The water is used for watering gardens, filling swimming pools and washing.

«Basically, we have here a backup. We can continue to have gardens and green areas and, if there is a lack of water in the Algarve, we have water for us. Period, paragraph», says the administrator of Grupo Pestana.

For Pedro Lopes, there is no doubt that the future regional desalination plant, which will be built near Rocha Baixinha beach (Albufeira) and will have the capacity to treat 16 cubic hectometers (hm3) of water per year, reaching up to 24, in a second phase, it is good news.

«We should have started making desalination plants 20 years ago. When we look at the models from Barcelona and Cyprus, we see that this is what can happen in the Algarve. I’m glad we’re starting now, but one won’t arrive – I’m absolutely sure,” she says.

Despite assuming that water from the desalination plant “is not cheap”, the administrator of Grupo Pestana considers that “we must increasingly rely on desalinated water for human consumption”.


Photos: Beatriz Bento | Sul Informação


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