Thursday, 18 May 2023, 21:03
The president of the Junta de Andalucía, Juanma Moreno, announced on Wednesday 17 May during a visit to Torre del Mar that the regional government will award a contract for the construction and operation of the first desalination plant in the Axarquía region, "at the end of June".
The announcement is part of a procedure initiated last year for which three companies are bidding. The announcement was a response to questions from journalists while he was taking part in an electoral event in the town, in the run up to the local elections on 28 May. He was there to support the Partdos Popular (PP) candidate for Vélez-Málaga (to which Torre del Mar belongs), Jesús Lupiáñez, who is running for the first time.
Moreno stated that the Junta is committed to having two desalination plants in the east of Malaga; the area of Malaga province most affected by the persistent drought, with La Viñuela reservoir already below 10 per cent of its capacity. "It has to be located in Axarquía, there is no doubt about it", said the Andalusian president, pointing out that "it should have been done a long time ago".
Moreno’s announcement comes a week after Pedro Sánchez’s central government promised to invest in a desalination plant for the Axarquía, a day before the start of the electoral campaign. “Don’t laugh at the farmers and growers, with an announcement a few hours before the start of an election campaign," he warned the Spanish prime minister.
"We want there to be not one, but two, because the water needs that not only Vélez-Málaga but the whole of the Axarquia have are going to be very great in terms of agriculture and consumption," said the Andalusian president. "We have to save the trees, which are drying up, and there are livestock farmers who are slaughtering their animals", he added.
In his opinion, Spain has "a serious water problem" and added: "The State has to come to the aid of the sector, we are the leading agricultural power in the country, 600 million is not enough, with that there is not even enough for Andalucía, more direct aid is needed, a reduction in tax exemptions."
Moreno stressed that the construction of a desalination plant takes at least five years and it is hoped that the one planned by the regional government will be ready in 2026 or 2027, the same timeframe as the initiative committed to by the central government.
Moreno’s position regarding the desalination plant for the Axarquía has altered in the last eighteen months. In September 2021 during a visit to Riogordo, Moreno claimed that the idea of a desalination plant was “not very popular with irrigators" and that the complicated topography of the Axarquía, with steep slopes near the coast, would complicate its viability, as well as the cost of electricity.
However, just a year and a half later, the Andalusian government, faced with the persistent drought, is being forced to speed up the procedures and has asked the central government’s ministry for ecological transition to build another, a request that has been accepted.
In January, during a visit to Nerja, Moreno promised to speed up the procedures for the Axarquía desalination plant as much as possible, reducing them from the year and a half initially planned to one year. Now, just four months later, during which time practically no rain has fallen in Malaga or Andalucía, the promised deadline is half that, with the awarding of the contract scheduled for this June.
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