After four dry years and lower than average rainfall, Malaga province is in danger of drought and the situation is deemed serious enough for the president of the Junta de Andalucía, Susana Díaz, to tell the Andalusian parliament this week that a decree is being drawn up to be brought into force if the situation does not improve.
Speaking at the State of the Region debate, she also called on the central government to carry out associated projects which have been outstanding for some time and never completed, such as the pipeline from the Iznájar reservoir in Cordoba to the northern Antequera area, which was supposed to have been built two years ago.
If the drought is officially announced, it will be the third in Malaga province this century. The first, in 2005, affected the western Costa del Sol, the Guadalhorce valley, Malaga city and Torremolinos. The next, in 2008, was in La Axarquía. Both remained in force until mid-2009. Now, eight years later, with only 205 cubic hectometres of water in the reservoirs - 30 less than last year - drought is knocking on the door of homes in the province again.
Among the projects still pending, which have barely progressed in all this time, is a new dam on the Río Verde which would increase the capacity of Marbella's La Concepción reservoir from the present 61.85 cubic hectometres to 180, making it the biggest in the province. Another is the pipeline between the Costa del Sol, Guadalhorce and La Axarquía, so that water can be passed from the western region, which has the most rainfall, to the east, when necessary. The present connection between the Costa del Sol and Malaga can only transfer 200 litres per second, which means a maximum of five cubic hectometres a year in the best of cases to the city from the Río Verde. The Junta says this capacity cannot be increased because the present pipes won't allow it and new lines would have to be laid between Marbella and Fuengirola and from there to Malaga.
At a meeting on Thursday the Junta promised to improve the pipe network on the Costa del Sol so that more water can be transferred from La Concepción reservoir.
At present, the Guadalhorce reservoirs contain just 112 hm3, La Viñuela 38 and La Concepción 33.8.