In the middle of summer, the reservoirs in the Malaga province are at less than half their capacity. The level of the water reservoirs has fallen by 19% in the past ten years.
The sparse spring rains failed to correct the downward trend of rainfall in Malaga for the summer. The previous hydrological year ended relatively well, but with no reserves for the following year in case it got too dry.
Reservoir levels are dropping
And that scenario has come true. Currently, the reservoirs in the province contain 306 cubic hectometres, which is equivalent to 49.68% of their capacity. Ten years ago, in this last week of July, they had 424 cubic hm, which is 68.86% of their capacity. Almost twenty points more than this summer.
“This situation is normal in summer with a Mediterranean climate. It reflects the dynamics of climate change we are witnessing globally, as well as two local factors, such as increased water consumption due to population growth and irrigation,” explains José Damián Sinoga. He is Professor of Physical Geography at the University of Malaga.
“It is clear that thermal anomalies* are taking place. In fact, there are continuous heat waves and in Malaga the terral (warm offshore wind) has already appeared three times this year. In addition, the phenomenon of evaporation also occurs in the summer. The problem becomes serious when we arrive without rain in September and October,” Sinoga warns.
The reservoir with the best numbers is La Concepción with 74.19% of its 62 cubic hectometres of capacity; Guadalhorce follows with 59.09%; Guadalhorce – Guadalteba with 54.12%; Limonero and Casasola with 54.5%.
“These reservoirs, except Guadalhorce-Guadalteba, have a high demand for water as they supply the Costa del Sol. They fill up quickly, but are also quickly emptied because they have a varying population that can multiply by four in high season,” says the UMA professor in Malaga Hoy newspaper, highlighting the water risks posed by tourism.
Exceptional drought Axarquia
“Irrigation is the cause of the high water consumption on the Axarquía coast. There is no need to demonize this. But to make it clear that we have to optimize water as a resource. We must not waste water,” says Sinoga.
The reservoir of La Viñuela in the La Axarquía region is in the worst condition with 46 of the 165 cubic hectometres of capacity. This represents 27.88% of the total volume. In the same week last year it was 35.76%; and 59.33% ten years ago. It is therefore a situation of “exceptional drought“.
In mid-June, the Board of Directors of the Junta de Andalucía approved the decree regulating hydrological drought indicators and exceptional water management measures in the region’s river basin districts. Besides Malaga, it also affects Huelva (Corumbel Bajo Reservoir) and Barbate (Barbate and Celemín Reservoirs).
Planned measures for the Axarquia shortage
In order to reduce the water shortage in the Viñuela system, the council has made plans to improve the transfer capacity between the Guadalhorce-Limonero and Axarquía systems.
Compared to other provinces in Andalucia, Malaga is still in relatively good shape. Water resources are lowest in Almeria at 12.5% of capacity; Cordoba with 26%; Jaen 31%; Cadiz 37.5%; Granada 43.6%; Sevilla 52.8% and Huelva with 58.22%. For more information, visit embalses.net.
*An anomaly is a fact or phenomenon that cannot be explained within a particular model or paradigm. That anomaly is like a stranger in our midst that turns the whole existing theory on its head