A bloom of algae in the warm waters of the Ria Formosa lagoon has sparked controversy within Olhão’s council amid claims that holidaymakers have sought treatment at Faro hospital.
Algae has been a problem this August but whether anyone has received medical treatment remains a mystery with the hospital denying it has treated any such patients and certain Olhão councillors saying that holidaymakers have been complaining that the algae has caused concerns and criticism from holidaymakers which has led to "trips to the hospital for treatment."
The harvesting of bivalves is still permitted in the Ria Formosa and in the Ria de Alvor but for the first time this year a neurotoxin has been detected in these areas by scientists from the University of Stockholm working with the Portuguese Institute of Ocean and Atmosphere.
In a report by Sul Informaçao, Helena Silva from the Institute said there is no cause for alarm, yet. There is no "immediate risk to public health. If there was, the collection of bivalves would be banned immediately."
A clear up of rubbish accumulated in the Ria Formosa natural zone in the Quinta do Lago and surrounding areas saw the cooperation of happy Conrad Hilton volunteers, the Almancil Scouts and other volunteers groups and individuals who all roll up their sleeves and attacked the problem of dumped waste and rubbish.
The Real Hotels Group has organised a ‘Let's Clear up the Ria Formosa’ day on the 17th May which aims to return the Ria Formosa to its natural state and is fully aware of the damage caused throughout the year due to ‘a variety of causes.’
The Real Marina Hotel & SPA in Olhão overlooks the Ria Formosa and those using the glass sided lift can rise to the 4th floor and see the Ria Formosa and the islands of Farol, Culatra and others laid out before them. It is important for the hotel’s tourist appeal and important for those whose incomes depend on the Ria Formosa and for those who live in Olhão.
The harvesting of shellfish again is prohibited along many areas of Portugal’s coast due to the presence of toxins that may cause diarrhea.
The temporary ban is listed on the website of the Portuguese Institute of Ocean and Atmosphere (IPMA) – see link below.
More than six tons of rubbish, including refrigerators, bicycles, motors and plastic has been collected in the now annual environmental initiative covering five locations in the Ria Formosa.
Miguel Pelica from Faro council, which again coordinated the collection, considered the operation as worthwhile as the rubbish has now gone, there is a better chance of the areas receiving Blue Flags status for pristine beaches and the participation of students as volunteers helps their environmental education."
The Ribeira das Lavadeiras that crosses under the EN-125 in Faro at the Olhão exit is 'nothing more than an open sewer, running freely to the Ria Formosa.'
This view is held by Faro’s opposition Socialist Party which wants the official bodies - including Faro council and the council owned company Fagar - to sort it out as they have 'been aware of the situation for at least two years.'
Faro council unanimously has approved a motion from the 'Salvar Faro, com Coração’ association which advocated the dredging of channels in the Ria Formosa, and a new sewage treatment plant to serve Faro and Olhão.
The motion called "as an emergency matter" for the dredging of the area between Culatra and Armona islands and advocated cracking on with a general programme of dredging across a wide area of the Ria Formosa. To avoid the risk of further pollution the motion also called for fast-tracking the construction of a new sewage treatment plant to serve Faro and Olhão, replacing the two old facilities which have become a focus of attention recently due to their habit of pumping polluted water into the Ria Formosa to the detriment of the shellfish industry.