Seven billion litres of drinking water are lost annually in the province of Málaga

by Lorraine Williamson
lost water
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MÁLAGA – The amount of water lost annually in the province of Málaga through leaks or fraudulent use reaches 7 cubic hectometres (7 billion litres). That amount is good for the water supply of 90,000 people. 

This conclusion comes at a time when many municipalities in Málaga have already had to take restrictive measures with regard to water consumption due to the prolonged drought in the province. Especially in the region of La Axarquía to the east of the city of Málaga there is a huge water scarcity. 

The newspaper Sur writes that the provincial council is urging municipalities to give priority to work to improve the networks. The Council bases this on a study by the Provincial Council into the supply networks in places with fewer than 20,000 inhabitants. 

“Very disturbing” 

One million euros was invested to detect water leaks in 77 small municipalities. This was on a total network of 800 kilometres of pipes. The data for the first 51 places surveyed are “deeply disturbing,” said the president of the Provincial Council, Francisco Salado, during a press conference on the initial conclusions of the investigation. 

“The water losses that occur in the network are not all due to leaks. There can also be fraudulent intakes,” Salado explained. He did not address specific municipalities, but indicated that “a large number of leaks” were detected in most municipalities. In some places even up to 45 leakage points in the municipal water network. 

With that water 90,000 inhabitants can be supplied 

“The province cannot afford to have such inefficient and inefficient supply networks in its municipalities. Some lose more than seven cubic hectometres of water per year. With that water we could provide 90,000 inhabitants. This is the same number of inhabitants that together form the 64 smallest municipalities in the province. It makes no sense to build new wells and reservoirs or to transfer water if we lose the water along the way,” warned the president of the Provincial Council. 

The water reservoirs in the province of Málaga are at 36.53% of their capacity. In addition, there is a very dry period with the forecast of a dry and warm autumn. That means that these uncontrolled leaks or fraudulent intakes of water also represent an economic loss. Without the leaks, municipalities would be able to invoice about €3.5 million more. 

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Fraudulent water withdrawals must be prevented

The leaks urgently need to be fixed, fraudulent water withdrawals must be prevented and faults must be repaired immediately and networks in poor condition must be renovated. Those were the first urgent conclusions of the investigation. 

That is why Salado has urged municipalities to urgently prioritise the necessary investments to improve their water networks. In doing so, they should achieve greater efficiency in managing such a “limited” resource. Therefore putting an end to leaks and fraud. 

In addition, Salado recalled that the provincial institution has earmarked €32 million for hydraulic engineering works. Of this, €16.8 million has already been invested in the following areas;

  • supplying, and improving catchments, and water treatment infrastructures
  • building new deposits or increasing their capacity
  • replacing and modernising pipelines

The municipalities of Fuente de Piedra, Humilladero, Campillos, Valle de Abdalajís, Casabermeja or Almogía have already benefited from this. In the short term, another €15 million will be invested in new projects to improve the hydraulic infrastructure in various parts of the province. 

See also: Millions of litres of water flow into the sea in Fuengirola unused 

The president of the Diputación added that the lack of water should not be a drag on the economy and development of the province. That is why he also called on other government services such as municipalities themselves and the Junta de Andalucía to plan the basic infrastructure. 

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