Drought brings Malaga to level red

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red level


PROVINCIA DE MALAGA – The water level in the three reservoirs that supply Malaga city with water has fallen below the limit of 71 cubic hectometres. This brings the drought in the city from serious to very serious, red level. In all likelihood, a drought emergency will be declared in January

The west coast of the Costa del Sol and the La Axarquía region are already at that red level and are receiving help from the capital. The rain has failed to materialise and the consequences on the reservoirs are painfully visible. A miracle almost has to occur for the tide to turn.

According to Diario SUR the images taken in the Guadalhorce-Guadalteba reservoirs are bleak. Lots of dirt, old buildings emerging, and narrow streams of water meandering towards the ends of the reservoirs.

Water from reservoirs goes also to Axarquía

At the end of this week, there were 67.9 cubic hectometres of water in the Guadalhorce, Guadalteba, and Conde del Guadalhorce reservoirs. That is the consumption of the city of Málaga for a year, but not all the water can be used. Moreover, it is not only for the city, as 300 litres of water per second are currently sent to Axarquía.

All three reservoirs are at historic lows as follows;

  • Guadalteba reservoir has just over 36 cubic hectometres (23.76% of capacity)
  • Guadalhorce, salinised, 20 cubic hectometres (16.10%)
  • Conde de Guadalhorce 11.23 (16.89%)

Precipitation in the fall was disappointing

Another fact is that autumn is coming to an end, while much hope was placed on this season in terms of precipitation. According to the data of the Hidrosur network, the maximum rain collected in the Guadalhorce reservoirs this autumn was only 47 litres per square metre.

If this water goes to the capital of the province of Malaga for a year, the shortage in the rest of the province is even more acute. Restrictions are increasing in Axarquía (the last major municipality to start restrictions is Rincón de la Victoria). Pumps have already been deployed to take advantage of every last drop of the depleted La Viñuela reservoir. With 12 cubic hectometres of water, this is below the red line.

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On the Costa del Sol, the Marbella desalination plant is currently operating at maximum capacity. Due to the aging of the equipment, this is only half of the original power. People here are waiting for the renovation work to be carried out. The capacity is doubled with other activities.

Municipalities may use reclaimed water

The umbrella council of municipalities in the western Costa del Sol wants to allow municipalities to use reclaimed water for irrigation of public gardens and street cleaning by the first quarter of 2024. The goal is to utilise the 40 cubic hectares of reclaimed water produced by the facility. Moreover, they want to expand its use in light of the current drought situation.

A roadmap drawn up by the council requires municipalities to draw up a plan for using reclaimed water to clean streets and irrigate parks. The water is a lower price, but municipalities have to buy it from Acosol.

Other measures being considered to combat the drought include the implementation of mobile desalination plants and water supply via ships. In addition, Acosol is working on a larger project to guarantee water supply for the Costa del Sol region.

The municipalities of the western Costa del Sol have already achieved the 20% water savings target of the Junta de Andalucía. The reduction in water pressure has been implemented and municipalities are adapting to the reduced water supply.

Red level water restrictions

The eleven municipalities on the western Costa del Sol are already making short- and medium-term plans to tackle the water shortage. Fuengirola was the first to announce the need for planned cuts in water supply to homes. The interruptions are communicated in advance to minimise disruption to daily life.

Previously, municipalities have introduced several restrictions to reduce water consumption by 20%, as required by the regional government. However, since there is no rain and the reservoir level is already very low, they are preparing for a more serious scenario. The red level indication includes the possibility of cuts in the water supply network. Other municipalities, such as Estepona, are also considering making temporary and night-time cuts in certain areas.

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