Alarm Costa del Sol: no tourists without swimming pools

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swimming pools

The population of the Costa del Sol has been anxiously awaiting the judgment of the drought committee. However, the advisory body of the Junta de Andalucía has decided to leave the details of decisions on water restrictions to the municipalities.

This in no way eliminates the uncertainties for gardeners, swimming pool maintenance companies, lifeguard companies or companies that rent apartments to tourists. Due to the Andalucian government’s drought regulations, only hotels, leisure facilities and campsites are allowed to fill their swimming pools. After the rain showers of Semana Santa, the amount of drinking water used per person has been increased from 160 to 200 litres per day. However, it is now up to the municipalities how this goal should be achieved.

Residential complexes with communal swimming pools and private houses are seeing their gardens becoming browner and their swimming pools emptier. Gardeners, swimming pool maintenance companies and lifeguard companies protested in Malaga against these water restrictions.

They demand more flexibility in regulations regarding filling swimming pools and irrigating gardens. “Without gardens and swimming pools we will perish,” was the message during the protest march on Friday in Malaga. The demonstration, backed by the Comisiones Obreras union and the Andalucian PSOE, attracted around 100 people concerned about keeping jobs in sectors such as pool maintenance, gardening and tourist apartments this summer.

Inequality in the sector

Andrés Marín, spokesperson for a garden company, expressed his concerns in the newspaper SUR about the discrimination they experience compared to hotels and tourist accommodations: “Since November we have not been able to fill the swimming pools and water the gardens. We want equality and flexibility so that we can all work.” Sandra Cortés highlighted the environmental impact of reducing vegetation by depriving it of water. That can increase temperatures and worsen CO2 emissions.

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Swimming pool maintenance at risk

Miriam Jiménez, owner of a pool maintenance company, pointed out the deterioration of partially filled pools. These will eventually crack and leak. “Moreover, with evaporation they become empty and there is a danger that someone could fall into them.” Furthermore, the water is a source of infection for mosquito plagues, for example.

Tourist apartments under pressure

Samantha Austin, representative of tourist apartments, expressed her concerns about the consequences of the measures for tourism. “Not opening the communal swimming pools in residential complexes where many apartments are rented to tourists has a major impact on us. Our tourists return every year and look for a swimming pool to enjoy. We are already getting cancellations and there will be more.” She says people are waiting for her news on whether the pool will be operational with bookings for the coming summer months.

Lifeguards hit

The lifeguards are also affected by the uncertainty. They emphasised that the uncertainty surrounding pool openings is affecting their operations and ability to hire staff. Normally that process starts before Semana Santa. Now they have to wait and see what the drought committee will decide about a possible flexibilisation of the drought measures.

Press the Junta

The protests put pressure on the Junta de Andalucía ahead of the next drought commission, which will set consumption rules. The Minister of Agriculture has now placed responsibility on the municipalities. If they think they can control consumption, it is up to them to allow the opening and filling of swimming pools. However, this process would have to be done with raw water from wells or groundwater. This means a closure of 24 to 72 hours for filtration of the available water.

Also read: What role do swimming pools play in drought-plagued Spain?

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