First swimming pools in southern Spain closed due to water restrictions

by Lorraine Williamson
swimming pools closed

VELEZ-MALAGA – The measures to limit the use of water in the La Axarquía region of Málaga have already led to the first closures of swimming pools. As a result, lifeguards must also be fired. 

Gardens and parks are also no longer allowed to be sprayed, which is why some homeowners’ associations are also sacking their gardeners. These consequences of the water-saving measures were only foreseen for September. The fact that they are already taking place is a setback, but all the water that is not used now will be there for then. 

The ban on cleaning streets, sidewalks and facades with water, the filling or refilling of swimming pools, the use of ornamental fountains without a closed circuit and public showers and pumps or the shutting off of water during the night, are some of the measures that have been taken in several municipalities in the province – particularly those that depend on the nearly empty La Viñuela reservoir – have been implemented since last week. Most of the problems are caused by the ban on refilling swimming pools in touristic municipalities such as Vélez-Málaga and the usually busy seaside resort of Torrox-Costa. 

Swimming pools in the province 

Based on data from the land registry, the province of Málaga currently has 78,606 swimming pools. Of these, 2,940 are located in Vélez-Málaga, although that is not the municipality with the most swimming pools in the province. Málaga City and Marbella have more, with 5,926 and 10,744 respectively. 

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5% drinking water 

Mercedes González Postigo of the Association of Property Managers of Málaga explains in MálagaHoy that, based on sanitary regulations, the Associations of Owners are obliged to fill 5% of the water in the swimming pools with drinking water every day. Without drinking water, they have to resort to the non-potable. This water must then “comply with the swimming pool decree”. The non-potable water will have to be analysed and deemed suitable for bathing. “It’s not easy to find non-potable water that we can use. We might succeed, but with the high demand, it could take up to 20 days,” explains the manager. 

Residents “overwhelmed” and “annoyed” 

The measures leave residents “overwhelmed” and “annoyed” according to both González and Manuel Jiménez, president of the Association of Property Managers. In addition, they emphasise that the problem lies in the fact that bathing in itself is not prohibited, but topping up is. That means that “when someone sees someone else bathing, he or she wants to go too”, regardless of the quality of the water in the pool. 

González sees the situation as “quite serious”. The next important step is to sensitise the population. “Citizens need to know that if they don’t conserve water, we won’t have water in August, not even for the daytime,” he notes. 

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