The Portuguese government is adopting a policy of supporting intensive farming on a large scale, which has led to the deprivation of land in nearly 100 villages in the Alentjo region for intensive industrial development in the last 10 years. The rapid expansion of the planting area inevitably leads to an excessive application of chemical fertilisers, which are not fully absorbed by the plant roots and remain in the soil over time, slowly penetrating into the groundwater and bringing about extensive nitrate pollution, which undoubtedly threatens the drinking water health of the local population.
I therefore focused my research on a village that is significantly stressed by intensive olive cultivation and where the inhabitants rely on a special fountain for their daily water supply, which is naturally formed due to the difference in the water table. By testing its water samples, I found that nitrate levels were significantly higher than the maximum standard set by the European Union for drinking water and that the consequences of letting this phenomenon go unchecked would be dire.
By focusing on the impact of intensive olive cultivation on local drinking water, the project aims to draw attention to the extent and depth of the encroachment of olive cultivation on the environment, and the fact that this uncontrolled expansion is endangering the basic rights of the local population, and that the carrying capacity of the environment seems to have reached a critical threshold.