THE START OF THE FILLING OF the reservoir impounded by Alqueva dam in Portugal was accompanied by protests from environmental activists.

The 96m high concrete arch dam is expected to create Europe’s largest manmade lake. The ceremony, on 8 February 2002, marked the closing of the dam’s floodgates by Portugal’s outgoing Prime Minister Antonio Guterres near the town of Alqueva. The filling of the reservoir, expected to take about four years, will result in the creation of a 250km2 lake. Environmentalists say the lake, which will be about 80km long, will destroy the habitats of floral species and animals including eagles, kites and some of the few remaining Iberian lynxes.

The US$1.7B project will provide enough electricity for 180,000 people.