Residents fill up from the water lorry that does the rounds of the streets of Archidona. C. Martín
Experts maintain that we can’t use the word “drought” yet. Technically there have to be two consecutive unusually dry hydrological years and the current one, although so far fitting the criteria, does not come to an end until September 30th. Nevertheless this year’s shortage of rainfall is starting to have an effect on at least some inland towns and villages in the province of Malaga. These are the places where the water supply comes from wells, which are starting to run dry, rather than from the large reservoirs.
What has just concluded, however, is the last farming year, (which goes from September 1st to August 31st) and the figures are far from positive. Fausto Polvorinos, chief forecaster for Eastern Andalucía at the State Meteorological Agency (Aemet), explains that this has been the fourth driest agricultural year since 1942-43, according to the Malaga airport rainfall monitor. But the situation is common across the province. In Malaga rainfall has been 55 per cent lower than the previous year and Archidona has seen only half of the average yearly precipitation measured between 1980 and 2010.
Unfit in Archidona
It is here, in the Antequera district, where the lack of rain is starting to take its toll. Since September 7th, 9,000 residents in Archidona and the surrounding area have been supplied by tankers, after the health department declared the local tap water unfit for human consumption, that is drinking or in cooking, due to excess colour.
The problem lies in one of the wells that supply the town, the Calderón, as water levels have got so low. The water in the other well is insufficient to supply the entire village through the mains pipes but is being used to fill the tankers that have been doing the rounds of the streets.
In Valle de Abdalajís, which also falls within the Antequera district boundary, the absence of rainfall has aggravated water supply problems already suffered since the local aquifer was perforated during works on the AVE tunnels. Since June tankers from Antequera have been filling the village’s own supply tanks, due to the lack of water in the wells at La Sierrecilla; even so the locals suffer occasional cuts.
Around 100 people protested at Malaga’s María Zambrano train station to call for the Spanish Railway Infrastructure Administrator (Adif) to fulfil its signed commitment to guaranteeing the local water supply, something that could be solved by using the water that is coming out of the tunnels.
Neither are the people of Almogía prepared to sit back while their water supply is regularly cut off. After several days of interruptions to their supply last week, around 50 residents from the Barranco del Sol area called for their mayor, Cristóbal Torreblanca, to find a solution. Since August 19th the Town Hall has been bringing in lorries to top up the area’s tanks in order to supply this and other areas such as Los Núñez and Arroyo de los Olivos. The mayor explains that the wells have dried up and not enough water is getting through to the mains supply.
In Casabermeja during the summer the volume going into rural areas had to be adjusted to guarantee supply, to the extent that there was only water getting through every other day. The mayor, Antonio Domínguez, however has said there will be no further cuts.
Meanwhile problems in Colmenar are concentrated in the Solano area. Due to the lack of water here a daily tanker load is being brought in to top up the town hall’s tank in Cerro del Águila which supplies the surrounding homes via the mains pipes.
Residents in Villanueva del Trabuco, Villanueva de la Concepción, Villanueva del Rosario and Riogordo have had their supply cut off this summer at times during the night, a measure that continues whenever there is a need to allow the levels in the tanks to recover.
Monda has experienced occasional pressure problems due to water shortages and the Atajate supply is now channelled from the source of La Huertezuela, in Alpandeire.
Environment representatives from the Junta de Andalucía and the provincial authority were due to meet this week to discuss the water supply problems and search for solutions. According to the Environment delegate at the provincial government, Juan Jesús Bernal, Malaga province needs works to the value of ten million euros to improve its water supply.