alentejo monte

Buying an Aljezur farmhouse

Aljezur farmhouses for sale

Algarve west coast climate; the best weather in Europe?


Odeceixe beach

Control of the red palm weevil

Vicentina natural park wildlife

Heating options

The truth about coastal property

What is natural park Costa Vicentina?

Building and renovating in western Algarve

Portugal land scams

Fishing on the Vicentina coast

Western Algarve agriculture


Utilities in Portugal

Schools in Aljezur

 Solar home heating plans
Water, Electricity, Data, and Septic systems in Natural park Costa Vicentina

Septic systems and sewage;

All points where water enters or leaves the ground in Portugal must now be registered; such as wells, ponds, and septic tanks.


If you have a registered septic tank, and it's usable, you can go on using it. The camara has pumpout vehicles [truck mounted as well as farm tractor pulled that can get practically anywhere].

But new ones are not allowed inside the park Vicentina [Outside the park, inland of the 120 road, you can still get planning permission for a septic tank].


If your land is in the park and you need a new septic system, you now have to install holding tanks that don't drain at all. This means big tanks, normal septic tanks without drain fields in tandem usually. All of your waste water will be pumped out and trucked to a treatment plant.


This costs money, and isn't very nice either, so if you buy a property in the park, a registered modern septic system is a big plus.


Some of the older houses have 'home made' systems; an underground brick tank made intentionally porous so it drains without a separate drain field.


These don't work well for several reasons; first, the drainage takes place a bit deep in the ground. During winter rains, that ground is already full of water. Result; toilet backs up.


Secondly, a proper septic tank only drains water into the soil. Solids are held selectively in the tank for biannual pumpout. The brick ones are just a mess.


Houses in towns [and some rural ones] are connected to modern central sewer systems; but few farmhouses are in this category.


If you can, inspect your prospective property after a week of heavy rain. Flush the toilet and see if it flows properly.

That's also a good time to check for damp problems in the house, for mold, and for standing water on the veranda and so on.



1; Mains  Power in Portugal is expensive, like most of Europe. They have a sustainable energy policy that's very nice and green, but is also expensive.

Still, it's far cheaper than making your own power [below].


If you have no connection, it can be a lengthly job to get it. As usual, it's mostly about paperwork.

If you have a habitation license, then you can apply for the connection.


Most likely you'll need to have wiring done or upgraded. This has to be done by a Portuguese  licensed electrician. He can make out the applications as well.


After 3 to 6 weeks, you'll get a price quotation from EDP, the energy company. If you agree, then you can sign a contract and pay your money. After another 3-6 weeks, the engineer will come to inspect your system. Presuming it's all ok, after another couple of weeks, they will connect the power.


The cost will depend on how far away the nearest pole with power is. I was lucky, I had a 3 phase line outside my door, but I'm told it's about 1000 Euros per pole they have to install for you, which are 50 meters apart.



Solar electricity;

The green dream...


Solar cells, photovoltaic panels, are getting better all the time, and cheaper too. Sometimes you can even get subsidies.


If you have a grid connection, it's possible to sell your green solar energy to the network at a premium price, guaranteed by the Portuguese government.


Possible, but not likely; there's a limited number of connections given each year, and a big rush to get applications in. The big "Solar energy" companies work hard to get them for their customers.


If you don't have a grid connection, and you want to have your own independent power supply, you'll need batteries. Big expensive lead acid batteries. Nothing green about them.


They will need replacing after 4-8 years.


A pair of 200AH deep cycle batteries will run you around 600 Euros. A really big battery bank suitable for off grid living will be more in the order of 10,000 Euros.


You'll need a backup generator as well, for long cloudy spells.


With the need for generator fuel and replacement batteries, your independent power supply isn't completely independent.


It has been claimed that financially, it can work out around even with a grid connection sometimes, if you install just the right capacity. Too little and you'll wear out your batteries quickly, too much and you've paid for something that isn't used.


Click for; Heating options



If you have domestic water supplied by your local camara [county];

It will be billed on a curved scale. The first few tons are very cheap, just a few cents each. the next few cost more, and finally you pay punitive rates of over 12 euros per ton.

So if you use the water only for your household, your bill will be in the order of 10-20 per month [and that includes some other fees for garbage collection, etc]. If you water even a modest garden, and or keep a swimming pool topped up, your bill will likely run 100-200 per month. 


Rains are almost entirely in winter, and that's the natural growing season in the Algarve.


If you want to grow a garden [ornamental or vegetable] you'll need another water supply.

Bore well; is good, costs quite a bit. You need permission to drill, and this can be hard to get.


Pond, or Baragem; the traditional method of holding rainwater.

This system works well. Your pond fills in winter and during occasional off season rains. It also has to be registered with the national water resource authority. New ones need permission.

 Cisterns; If they are sealed, and not open to ground water entering or leaving them, they don't need permission from the water authority. It may need planning permission from your camara.

You'll need a large cistern; 40,000 liters would be a few hundred liters a day through the dry season. 100,000 liters would be better, but such large tanks get expensive and take a fair Amount of space. underground is good, and a backhoe / loader with operator is only 40-50 per hour here. But tanks that big have to be very strong or they'll collapse when empty from the pressure of the ground and water around them.   


Canal water;

If your land has access to one of the irrigation canals, you have no worries.

In the Aljezur area, the irrigation canal runs from the Santa Clara dam in Alentejo. If you have property "under" the canal, that is, it can be watered by opening one of the valves and letting water flow into the field by gravity, then you have to register the ownership with the authority in Odimira. You have to pay a maintenance fee for your share of the canal whether you use water or not. it's about E50 per hectare per year. You also pay about 4 cents for each ton of water after that.

If you want to use water, you have to ask the person in charge of your section of the canal. You can get the phone number from the office in Odimira, or just flag him down when you see him opening up the sluice to water your neighbor's place.

Some will allow pumping from the open canal, and charge by calculation. Others insist on the traditional system, which is to open a gate and let water in by gravity only.

You can set up a system of trenches to water your crops, and he will open the water as often as you want. Or you can have a tank or holding pond that gets filled, then pump it from there.

There are underground pipes that carry the water to fields quite a distance from the canal itself. You'll see the concrete well head sticking out of the ground, with an iron handwheel to open the valve with. Yes, they do still work.

Since the system was designed for flood irrigation in the 1970's, a time when there was no power supply to most of the area, the pipes only serve areas lower than the canal [gravity feed].

There are privately built pumphouses built along the canal that send water up to a Km away [a local fellow told me] through buried tubes.


Telephone, TV, and internet;

Most of the park area is well served by 3G mobile coverage; but in the valleys just inland, there are "dark spots". I know a couple of people who just can't get a signal.

wireless data upto 4Mb are available through this system.

Fixed lines are available to most properties; it varies with distance from the servers, so you'll have to check with the phone company about your options.

If Internet access is vital to you, check before you buy.

Check, and

Meo has [2010] good package deals on phone, internet, and TV through the phone network that even works in some remote areas. It depends on the lines. You can check on their website.

For BBC domestic channels, you'll need a satellite receiver.  It is possible to receive almost all British [and other European] channels with available equipment, but be aware that receiving broadcast meant for other countries is practically never legal.