Several groups of people who are against the construction of a desalination plant in the Algarve expressed their opposition to the project last Wednesday, saying it will cause an “environmental crime” in Praia da Falésia, in Albufeira.
“We are on Falésia beach, considered one of the 10 most beautiful beaches in the world, and we are against the construction of a desalination plant that will create problems of contamination and pollution, such as the brine that will be thrown onto our coasts”, said Paolo Funassi, of the informal group of foreigners in the Algarve that claims to have 2,300 supporters.
This group, together with the environmental movement Amar o Mar and Plataforma Água Sustentável (PAS), held an impromptu press conference at one of the entrances to the beach, to explain their position.
These entities are against what they classify as an “environmental crime” with the construction of a desalination plant in Albufeira, which will involve, on a daily basis, the discharge into the sea of “60,500 tons of poison containing heavy metals that cause cancer”.
Also present at the press conference, Álbida Ferreiro, who belongs to the Foreigners in the Algarve group, was representing the family that owns the 12 hectares where the new unit is intended to be, to transform salt water into fresh water.
Ferreiro explained that they received the letter of expropriation of the land for 600,000 euros on December 27th, but that on January 25th the family contested this request, and are still waiting for a response.
The owners do not accept selling the land and Álbida Ferreiro explained that her family immigrated to Portugal 20 years ago, from Galicia (Spain), with her father's dream being to build a nursing home on the land targeted for expropriation.
Ábida Ferreiro was also “very concerned” about the likelihood of there being a “huge devaluation” in the price of around 200 apartments that the family is building on another plot of land close to Praia da Falésia, caused by the proximity of the desalination plant.
The associations that contest the construction of the desalination plant are promoting the signing of a public petition against this project.
According to the text of the petition, the desalination station “does not ensure universal and equitable access to drinking water”, as was assumed by Portugal in the Sustainable Development Goals, “as it will be handed over to a public-private company, which will be compensated whenever there is no need to treat and sell water”.
The text also argues that the effectiveness of this project is reduced, as “it will only respond to the annual needs of around 100,000 consumers”, when the Algarve has more than 400,000 inhabitants in the low season.
The protest platform will launch an “awareness campaign” for its cause with the distribution of leaflets in cafes, restaurants and hotel establishments in the region.
“We are going to launch this campaign because almost no one talks about these issues” here in the Algarve, said Paolo Funassi.
The structural lack of water in the Algarve led the Government, in mid-2023, to take the decision to build a desalination plant in the municipality of Albufeira. The project was under public consultation until December 19th and the tender for the construction work for this unit should have been opened by the end of January.
The company Águas do Algarve has not yet managed to expropriate all the rustic buildings necessary to implement the station, and the impact this will have on the start of works is unpredictable.