One hundred kilometres of pipelines which are nearly 50 years old, break around 50 times a year and are mostly made of asbestos cement, which as well as being fragile also contains asbestos, which is a danger for health after 40 years of useful life. This is the current state of the giant pipeline which supplies drinking water all along the coast from Manilva to Torremolinos.
The problem is that the breakdowns are now becoming more frequent in the Second Pipeline as well and any incident means the pressure has to be reduced or the supply has to be interrupted, in the most populated region and the one which depends most on tourism. This summer alone there were seven breakages.
Faced with this situation, the Mancomunidad has drawn up a plan to renovate the principal network, which is divided into two branches (east and west) and starts at the Río Verde water treatment station in Marbella. The cost will be more than 150 million euros, although the Junta de Andalucía has agreed to cover the works in Casares, Manilva and Estepona, which are estimated to cost about 30 million euros.
Extra charge on water bills
The rest of the cost will be paid by the Mancomunidad, and it is currently finalising the procedures to guarantee the financing of the 127 million euros it needs (111 million for the works including IVA and the rest in interest on bank loans) by adding a charge for the improvements to people's water bills.
Once the proposal has been approved and the loans are in place, the works will be carried out in phases. However, it will take approximately ten years to replace the whole of the water pipe system.