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Coín has dumped enough polluted water to fill a reservoir, inquiry says

An algae-covered "lifeless zone" in the river near Coín.
An algae-covered "lifeless zone" in the river near Coín. / SUR
  • Despite council putting sewage into a protected area for years, the Junta has only ever issued two fines of 1,200 euros each

The investigation into the dumping of sewage and polluted water by town councils in Coín and Nerja continues to throw up some eye-watering data, showing just how much untreated waste is allowed to flow into the Guadalhorce basin or the Mediterranean.

Last week it was revealed that Guardia Civil investigators have estimated that there is a nine-tonne "mountain" of used wet wipes on the seabed near Nerja. This week it has emerged that the same team believes that Coín council has allowed enough polluted water to flow into its local rivers to fill the equivalent capacity of Malaga city's El Limonero reservoir.

Eleven former and current local politicians and officials have been quizzed by police as part of the inquiry that has now been moved up a level to an investigating judge. Town councils are responsible for correctly handling sewage from homes and businesses. But the officials, including mayors and former mayors, strongly deny any wrongdoing, saying it is the job of the Junta regional government (or national government in the case of Nerja), to provide promised proper treatment works. Sewage plants that will serve both towns are planned but have been repeatedly delayed.

In the case of Coín, waste water has traditionally been allowed into tributaries of the Pereila river, a protected natural area. All but one of the tests on the water affected taken between 2010-2016 had high readings of bacteria from faeces.

Investigators estimated that, from 2001 to 2018, 32 million cubic metres of waste was dumped by Coín, more than the 25 million cubic metres stored in the medium-sized El Limonero reservoir behind Malaga city. Despite the pollution, the regional government had only ever issued two fines of 1,200 euros each.