A group of Algarve MPs has agreed that the authorities must 'begin to pay more attention to pollution outbreaks in the Ria Formosa.'
Cristóvão Norte, Bruno Inácio, Elsa Cordeiro and Pedro Roquein visted Faro and Olhão and saw at first hand the steady stream of turds flowing serenely into the harbour near the entrance to the Olhão ferry terminal.
In a Sul Informaçao report, the four social democrat MPs were described as being on a working visit to get an update on the new Águas do Algarve treatment plants to serve the two cities, and to see at first hand the problem of raw sewage being discharged day after day into the Ria Formosa from Olhão’s antiquated pipework system.
"Our appeal is that all those who have responsibilities (for pollution) should fulfill their obligations, and if this is not done in time, that public authorities should penalise those who do not comply,” said Cristóvão Norte in the interview with Sul Informaçao.
In Olhão, the sewage discharge into the Ria Formosa is a problem that has been going on for many years. The Olhão mayor knows the situation and says that it will not be easy to solve as he claims 'there is no money.'
Many of the rainwater pipes in Olhão have sewage pipes illegally connected to them. In some cases these are from old houses, but there are also cases of new buildings that are not connected to the municipal sewage system and which therefore discharge directly into the Ria Formosa.
The Algarve MPs stressed the 'urgency of solving the environmental problems in Olhão and other municipalities in the Algarve.'
This is a problem that has been allowed to continue as until recent years the chances of tourists wanting to visit the city were slim. Now, with a vibrant expat community and a booming tourist trade, the visible raw sewage has become an embarrassing and potentially dangerous fact of life.
The MPs have known about this problem for years. Their walkabout may again get the matter covered in the press, but with no enforcement of environmental rules that cover everywhere else in the Algarve, and with raw sewage continuing to flow into the Ria Formosa it is little wonder that the shellfishermen frequently are banned from harvesting their stock, the river pollution levels are avoidably high and many tourists come but once.
With this type of officially sanctioned pollution caused by untreated human waste, the Algarve cannot be said to be taking its environment seriously and weak calls for action by MPs who have known of these problems for years will serve only to heighten the sense of disappointment felt by those who are working hard to improve the city's image and facilities.