Water supplies on the western Costa del Sol are guaranteed for the peak tourist season. The dry spring however has left reserves lower than they were a year ago, and the authorities are warning that if it doesn't rain later this summer and if demand remains as expected, water will have to be diverted from Malaga from October onwards.
La Concepción reservoir, which supplies Mijas, Torremolinos, Benalmádena, Fuengirola, Marbella, Estepona, Benahavís, Istán, Ojén, Casares and Manilva, is currently at 69% of capacity and contains 42.6 cubic hectometres of water, according to information from the Red Hidrosur, part of the regional government's Ministry of Agriculture, Farming, Fishing and Sustainable Development.
The level of water has risen by four per cent (1.68 cubic hectometres) since the present hydrological or water year began on 1 October. However, when comparing the figures from exactly one year ago with those now the picture is not exactly promising. In June 2018 La Concepción was 94.8% full and contained nearly 59 cubic hectometres, 16 more than now. Since then it has rained very little.
Since the start of the hydrological year the reservoir has collected 426 litres per square metre, compared with 603 in the same period last year. The Marbella treatment plant has collected 322 litres per square metre, compared with 533. The main problem with La Concepción is that it is a small reservoir and since May it has been in a situation of pre-alert. According to the latest reports, if there is no rain it will be at emergency level in October.
The Costa del Sol, with its massive influx of tourists, needs about 33 cubic hectometres of water during the summer season. The authorities say there will be enough this year without restrictions having to be imposed, as water will be supplied from the reservoir, the Marbella desalination plant, various wells and transferred from the Campo de Gibraltar area under a purchase agreement signed in 2013 by the Arcgisa and Acosol companies.
However, action may have to be taken in October to guarantee supplies, including diverting water from Malaga at a rate of 200 litres per second, which is the maximum possible through the pipeline to the coast.
Manuel Cardeña, the head of Acosol, says there is no need for concern but he stresses that the regional government needs to create connections between the reservoirs so no water is wasted. At present when it rains heavily water has to be released from La Concepción and it just flows into the sea instead of being diverted and stored elsewhere.