Lack of water prevents the opening of a new bathing area in Castro Marim

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The drought in the Algarve is preventing the opening of a new bathing area at the Odeleite dam in Castro Marim, where the water level does not allow for floating pools, the town’s deputy mayor told Lusa.

The current water level in the Odeleite dam, the largest in the eastern Algarve, is about 42.09% of useful volume, not enough to allow the safe opening of this new bathing area, a pole created by the municipality to develop the county’s interior, explained Filomena Sintra.

The area, located on a hillside west of the village of Odeleite, is, according to the mayor, the new beach of the Algarve, but at the moment there are “no conditions to place the floating pools” to allow their use, because the stairway to access the water ends a few meters above the current water line.

“Now that we are at the stage of putting the final touches and modules for the bathrooms, the bar, support services, and placing the floating pools, we are faced with the reality that the level of the dam does not allow us to safely place the floating pools there, because they would be too far from the staircase area of the water sports center itself,” lamented the mayor.

According to Filomena Sintra, those responsible for the project took into account the monthly average since the dam started operating, and designed the staircase that will serve as a mooring point for the floating pools and will adjust to the water plane, considering this history and also the forecasts.

However, in the last four years, the drought and lack of rain have worsened, especially in the northeastern Algarve, but also in the western windward side, and this has conditioned the opening of the nautical activities center at the dam.

Filomena Sintra was, however, convinced that the work carried out in the region in terms of water management will increase the water reserves and ensure that the dam reaches optimal levels for the use of the area by bathers.

“We believe that, with the new solutions that may exist for storage, capture, rationalization of water for the Algarve, that this is a problem that will not get worse, because that would mean that we would have to rethink our Algarve,” he considered.

The vice-president also explained that, although the project is “prepared to have a height oscillation of 15 meters” in the mooring of the floating pools, at the moment “people would have to climb down a large staircase to get to the pools” and “this is not the goal”, because the staircase should “be at the level of the sandy beach that was installed there”.

The mayor hopes that conditions may soon change so that the project, budgeted at around 900,000 euros, can enter the operational phase, also allowing it to “attract people to the interior” of the municipality and help develop the area.

After several vicissitudes with project approvals and plans, which caused delays in the work, now it is the lack of water that conditions its development and that leaves residents and local workers unbelieving about the entry into operation of the nautical center of the Odeleite dam.

Cecília Neves works in the restaurant closest to the place where the nautical center was built and told Lusa that she believes that “it will really take a little while” for that structure to become operational.

“In the beginning they talked about a river beach and now, at this moment, the population, at least, says it’s going to be a nautical center. Now, exactly, I don’t know what it will be, but either one would be good for the business here in the area and for the restaurant,” he said.

The same source admitted that he expected the project to be ready as early as last year, but acknowledged that “this year it’s a little hard to believe” that it will be ready to receive people.

“It’s really taking a long time, let’s see,” said the restaurant worker, expressing her hope that it will still rain and that there will be an improvement in the water levels to allow the nautical center at the Odeleite dam to start operating.

The Minister of Agriculture and Food, Maria do Céu Antunes, informed on Monday that she signed the dispatch that recognizes the drought situation in 40% of the national territory, in the south of the country.

The order was signed on Friday, after the Ministry received data from the Portuguese Institute of Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA) stating that in the last two months there has been no rain, there were “three heat waves during the month of April” and there have been “average and maximum temperatures well above normal.

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