Province of Málaga lets municipalities decide on filling swimming pools this summer

by Lorraine Williamson
filling private swimming pools

The possibility of whether or not filling swimming pools is one of the topics that will be discussed in the provincial drought committees next week. The basis of the decision is as follows: the local authorities will be able to decide whether or not to allow filling and refilling if they can comply with the established consumption guidelines. Each municipality will look at how it can adapt so as not to exceed the limits. And to guarantee the water supply.

The contributions of the March rains have already left an additional 55 cubic hectometres in Málaga’s reservoirs. Water levels continue to rise due to runoff. The drought committee will review the consumption ceilings after the March rains.  It is up to the municipalities to decide how to adapt to the established ceilings. The current regulations open the door to the use of water in tankers.

Difficult issue for local government

In practice, this is good news for users. However, this complicates matters for the local government. It breathes new life into the case that was put on the table by the Association of Property Managers of Málaga and Melilla (CAF). They want clear rules of the game for a variety of reasons. Firstly, to ensure legal certainty in decision-making in the communities. Secondly, to avoid the conflict of last summer. Especially in the Axarquia region. There was vandalism in other people’s swimming pools. There were also complaints between hamlets. Thirdly, because a large part of employment and maintenance and service contracts depend on the swimming pools. A few days ago, gardeners protested when the decision of the previous drought commission to exempt public swimming pools, municipal swimming pools, sports club swimming pools, campsites and hotels for this summer became known.

Open to flexibility

“It will depend on the capacity of the municipalities to reach 180, 200 or 225 litres per inhabitant per day. We always want to make the restrictive measures more flexible, depending on the water capacity we have. If they can be more flexible, we will always try to do so,” said the regional Minister of Agriculture, Carmen Crespo.

“It is the drought committee that establishes general formulas and we will see what the development is in the coming days. My view, without waiting for this data, is that some measures can be made more flexible,” she added.

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Guaranteed drinking water, but not for filling swimming pools

Crespo insisted on the most important thing: guaranteed drinking water, taking into account the arrival of tourists in summer. Drinking water is therefore really intended ‘for the mouth’. The consumption limits are set by the drought committees. Each municipal authority or water company shall take the measures it deems appropriate to comply with the limit.

In practice, the 11 municipalities of the Costa del Sol and the municipality of Málaga agree in their prohibitions that drinking water is prohibited for filling swimming pools. But also for garden and golf course irrigation; car washing; drinking fountains; showers; foot baths; buckets etc. If this regulatory framework is followed in the municipalities, it would open the door, outside the consumption limits, to the use of trucks with raw water from the water table. Of these, prices have skyrocketed recently.

The limits of water use per person

At the moment, the entire province is at the ‘severe’ level, with a consumption cap of 160 litres per inhabitant per day. The limits can vary up to 180, 200 or 225 litres, depending on the reserves. According to the data from the reservoirs, the capital Málaga and the Guadalhorce-Limonero system had 85.36 hectometres on Tuesday. That’s 14 above the serious level. The committee could relax some measures. In La Axarquía, the filling volume of the La Viñuela reservoir is spectacular. It is on its way to 28 cubic hectometres and has doubled its reserves. But it still sits at 16.70% and is a far cry from the 41.54 hm3 needed to get out of the severe level.

Storms good for water levels

The seven reservoirs in the province of Málaga reached the end of Tuesday with 152 cubic hectometres. Before storms Monica and Nelson (March 8), they had stored barely 97. The end of the drought is still a long way off. But the latest rains have given the province some breathing room to face the summer with more confidence.


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