Is the Costa del Sol heading to a summer without swimming pools?

by admin
summer is coming

With spring approaching and summer on the horizon, a shadow hangs over the Costa del Sol. The region, known for its sun-drenched days and refreshing pools, may be in for a summer without these cool oases.

The contradictions between the Drought Decree of the Junta de Andalucía and the local regulations of the municipalities creates legal uncertainty and increases the risk of conflict between neighbours. “Depending on how each manager interprets the rules, some swimming pools on the same street may be open and others closed,” said the College of Real Estate Managers in Málaga. This can lead to discord and disrupted relations between communities. Such a scenario already played out last summer in the Axarquía region east of Málaga.

The challenge of filling swimming pools

According to the Junta’s latest decree, swimming pools can only be filled if they are new, recently renovated, or to replenish the natural loss of water. The latter, estimated at 2-3% daily refilling, means in practice that swimming pools must be completely filled two to three times during the season.

Water barrels as a solution?

Local ordinances vary by municipality. Some allow the use of water barrels to fill swimming pools. However, the Junta’s 2019 Technical Sanitary Decree requires this water to be treated first. This may mean that the swimming pools have to close for a few days in the middle of summer. The possibility of filling swimming pools with non-potable water offers a way out, but is not without complications. People can order water, but, as was evident last year in the Axarquía region, they are then subject to significant price fluctuations. While a container of water initially cost up to €110, at the end of the summer it was charged as much as €600.

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Water meters removed or sealed

In addition, some municipalities further complicate the situation by removing or sealing water meters. This means that essential facilities at communal swimming pools, such as showers and toilets, cannot be used. In fact, such a seal amounts to the closure of a swimming pool, without the political consequences of an official closure. Communal swimming pools may only be open if there are functioning showers and toilets.

A dive into uncertainty

With almost 80,000 outdoor swimming pools in the province of Málaga, 5,000 of which are communal, the question of whether these pools will be open this summer is a burning topic. The persistent drought and the increasingly acute water shortage threaten to keep these swimming pools closed during the hottest months. The fact that no definitive ban has been issued in the current legislation and that some municipalities do prohibit the filling of swimming pools makes advice difficult. This is what Manuel Jiménez, president of the College of Real Estate Managers in Málaga, says. “We do not blindly defend the right to swimming pools. We ask for clarity. The only one that can bring uniformity and clarity seems to be the Junta de Andalucía. But the Junta’s response puts the ball back in the hands of the municipalities, which must determine the measures.”

The role of hotels

Hotels seem to be left out of harm’s way. Despite the water restrictions, their pools can remain open as emphasised by Javier Hernández, vice-president of the hotel association AEHCOS. This raises questions about the unfair situation between tourists and locals. Furthermore, the daily water consumption of a hotel guest is considerably higher than that of a resident.

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

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