Alqueva

The Alqueva dam is a dam located on the Guadiana River in the Alentejo region. The reservoir is the largest in Portugal and Western Europe.

The complex project was made to produce hydroelectric power, irrigation for farms in the surrounding area, as well as a large reservoir where several tourist ventures are also being built. Alqueva, a village of about 350 inhabitants, gives the project the name. It is the site of the biggest ostrich farm in Portugal.

The Alentejo is the driest and hottest region in Portugal. Persistent droughts are a problem. The climate and a lack of infrastructure have impeded economic development and isolated the area from the national and European economies.

During the 1950s, the Portuguese Prime Minister, António de Oliveira Salazar, ordered a study of the feasibility of the dam project. The potential benefits of the Alqueva dam were discussed for decades. An initial effort was undertaken after the Carnation Revolution of 1974, but it was abandoned in 1978. The Portuguese government eventually made a firm decision to build the dam in the 1990s, during the Cavaco Silva and António Guterres governments.

Aldeia da Luz, a small village that lay in the projected flood zone of the dam, was completely rebuilt on a new site.

The construction of the new dam was carried out by a joint venture of Bento Pedroso Construções, Cubiertas y MZOV, Dragados and Somague - Sociedade de Construções.

On February 8, 2002, the 96 metre high floodgates of the Alqueva dam were closed. In 2006 the lake was filled to the planned level, with a surface area of 250 km².

In 2004, the hydroelectric power station started to work, with a capacity of 240 megawatts. As of 2025 (though the endeavour is already slated to be finished by 2013), the lake should supply irrigation water for 1,100 km² in the Alentejo.

Images


  • Panoramic view of dam and power station

  • Jet from the flip bucket spillway

Media

6 photos

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