More rain forecast as reservoir levels rise

The state of La Concepción reservoir, near Marbella, at over 70 per cent of its capacity this week.
The state of La Concepción reservoir, near Marbella, at over 70 per cent of its capacity this week. / J-LANZA
  • The head of the western Costa del Sol water company has warned against being complacent as the La Concepción capacity is still too small

Heavy rain over the past week and a half may not have been welcomed by holidaymakers, but has certainly gone some way to allaying fears of a possible drought this summer.

Since 28 February levels have risen by over 60 cubic hectometres in the province's reservoirs, following last weekend's string of amber and yellow weather warnings followed by more intermittent rain over the last few days.

The downpours provided a welcome relief to the area's farmers as well as authorities fearing that drought restrictions would need to be brought in over the summer after the province's reservoirs started to approach critical levels. However, experts have now said that the water that has been added in the last two weeks is the equivalent of a year's worth for the city Malaga, or six months for the whole Costa del Sol area.

As a result, new drought restrictions, which were set to be put in place in April, will not go ahead after the week's rain reversed some of the effects of the previous five years, in which rainfall has been below the long-term average. The current restrictions placed on farmers will also be reconsidered.

Healthier reservoir levels

Over the last week the reservoirs have filled to over 250 cubic hectometres. As often happens in periods of sustained rain, it was the mountains of Ronda on the border between Malaga and Cadiz provinces that saw the heaviest rainfall. At Pujerra in the Genal valley, 251 millimetres of rain fell over last weekend.

Serious incidents

The harsh weather conditions led to several incidents in Malaga province, especially in the Axarquía and the western Costa del Sol. In Estepona, a couple and their baby had to be rescued after they became trapped in their vehicle at a flooded crossing. Meanwhile Jorge de Amuedo had a particularly close shave after he and his car became trapped in the raging waters of the normally empty Rio Seco. Fortunately, he was aided by his neighbours, who rescued him using ropes. His Mercedes GLK was not so lucky.

Western Costa update

One of the main beneficiaries of the rain has been La Concepción reservoir, a relatively small reservoir behind Marbella that serves the municipalities of the western Costa del Sol from Torremolinos to Manilva.

Local public water provider, Acosol, has said it is pleased that the reservoir is now back up to over 70 per cent of its capacity, however the company's head has been explaining this week that it cannot be complacent.

Manuel Cardeña recalled that the capacity of La Concepción is quite small and, once it gets full, it is forced to let water run off into the sea, even if there is a shortage in other Costa areas. He said that Acosol still has a deal in place with the Campo de Gibraltar water company to bring in extra water to the western Costa where needed and may look at a similar deal with Malaga city.

Commenting on the lack of connectivity between the province's reservoirs, he said that “logically it has to be possible to pump water from where there is a surplus to where their is a deficit”. He also explained that the desalination plant in Marbella, that also supports the local water supply, will be updated from next autumn to reduce costs.

On Friday the Spanish weather agency Aemet issued a yellow weather warning for rain on the Costa del Sol and in the Guadalhorce area on Saturday morning.