Algarvean mayors go to Spain to learn about desalination solutions to drought
“This is a study visit of three days, organized by AMAL (Algarve Intermunicipal Community), so that decision-makers are aware of and can discover new solutions to treat or produce water” revealed António Miguel Pina, president of AMAL and mayor of Olhão.
Speaking to Lusa, on the sidelines of a conference on climate change that took place today in Loulé, the mayor of Olhão also stressed that the trip intends for the handful of Algarvean mayors to see “on the spot” solutions “that may be applied in the Algarve” .
On the first day, the mayors will visit a technological center in Dénia and a desalination plant in La Marina Baja, both in the province of Alicante, in the autonomous region of Valencia.
The second day is reserved for a visit to two Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTP): one in La Gavia (Madrid) and the other in Ávila, locality of the autonomous community of Castile and Leon.
António Miguel Pina revealed that the latter facility is characterized as being at the top of the “technological development of water treatment and reuse” having the ability to treat water with “an exceptional quality” that can be used for human consumption.
The AMAL president defended the importance of political decision-makers not being “just stuck” to technician’s opinions, and to form opinions “with their eyes”. With the experience accumulated in the desalination of sea water, the mayor believes that it will be possible to outline the “advantages and disadvantages” of this solution to the region’s water worries, as well as ways of solving them.
Mr. Pina highlighted the care that the Spanish environmental authorities take with the unwanted products resulting from the desalination process, which has been the target of environmental concerns and which still leads some to “fear” this solution.
Águas do Algarve, the company responsible for supplying water to municipalities and treating wastewater in the region was invited to the visit, however, schedule impediments did not allow them to “be available”, he added.
This trip also has a political weight, since, “with no regionalization”, the mayors are the “political force that defends the interests” of the region and, if there is unity within AMAL, “they will have even more strength”, he explained.
However, some have alleged the visit to be nothing more than a political stunt, questioning the usefulness of the four-day trip, and whether it is truly a good use of taxpayers’ money.
The mayors of Olhão, Loulé, Faro, Albufeira, Vila Real de Santo António, Lagoa, Alcoutim, Castro Marim and Monchique will participate in this visit.