The Alqueva general irrigation system, which serves an area of around 120,000 hectares, consists of 69 dams, reservoirs and weirs, 380 km of primary network, 1 620 km of pipes in the secondary network, 47 pumping stations, 5 mini-hydroelectric plants and 1 photovoltaic plant.
Alqueva’s general irrigation system is divided into three subsystems based on the water’s origin:
The Alqueva subsystem, whose water comes from the Alqueva, starts at the Álamos Pumping Station.
This station raises water to a height of 90 m along a pipe 850 m in length and 3.2 m in diameter to the Álamos reservoirs, which distribute water to the whole Alqueva subsystem.
The 11 km Álamos Channel leads to the Loureiro Dam, from which the 24 km Loureiro – Monte Novo Channel flows to the Monte Novo Dam. To the south, the 11 km Loureiro-Alvito Tunnel runs from the Loureiro Dam to supply the Alvito Dam. The Alvito – Pisão Channel flows from Alvito Dam to Pisão Dam and then on to Roxo Dam long the Pisão – Roxo Channel.
The channels are surrounded by the Monte Novo, Alvito – Pisão, Pisão, Ferreira Figueirinha e Valbom and Alfundão hydro-agricultural holdings.
The Alqueva subsystem covers a total irrigated area of around 64,000 ha and 8,619 properties.
The Ardila subsystem begins at the Pedrógão/Left Bank Pumping Station, has 15 dams or reservoirs, has over 60 km of primary network, 270 km of secondary network pipes, six pumping stations and one mini-hydroelectric plant.
The Ardila subsystem is supplied with water from the Pedrógão Reservoir. It comprises the Orada-Amoreira, Brinches, Brinches-Enxoé and Serpa hydro-agricultural holdings in the municipalities of Moura and Serpa on the left bank of the River Guadiana and covers a total irrigated area of 30,000 ha.
The Pedrógão subsystem begins at the Pedrógão/Right Bank Pumping Station and has nine dams or reservoirs, three pumping stations, and over 42 km of primary network and channels under development to the east of Beja on the right bank of the River Guadiana.
The creation of regulating reservoirs and a supply system that carries water to the region not only makes it possible to supply water to the secondary system for irrigation but also creates alternatives, if necessary, to boost the public water supply, as the region suffers from a severe lack of water resources.
The Pedrógão subsystem covers a total irrigated area of 24,500 ha.
A 593 ha irrigation area of near the new Aldeia da Luz has been set up and takes water directly from the Alqueva reservoir.