EUROPE’S LARGEST RESERVOIR, part of the Alqueva project on the Guadiana river in Portugal, is to be completed at the end of the year. The reservoir is scheduled to start filling with winter rains in January 2002. The project, which has been opposed by conservationists and environmental groups, was first conceived during the 1950s. Located 175km southeast of Lisbon, the project consists of 10 dams that will form a reservoir with a water spread of 256km2.

The project was initially designed to supply water for a new industrial city, although the objective of the project has changed over the years to supplying irrigation water to Alentejo, in Portugal’s prime farming area.

Opponents of the project claim it is not economically viable, will harm the environment and destroy valuable flora that is the natural habitat of eagles, wild boar and some of the few remaining Iberian lynxes, an endangered species.