The critical situation of La Viñuela reservoir, with just 22 cubic hectometres stored, 13.4 per cent of its capacity, with two months of summer still to go, it is heading towards the same level it reached on 31 October 2008 when it was left with just 15.2 cubic hectometres, at 9.2 per cent of its capacity.
At the current rate of consumption, with a drop of around three hectometres a month, it is expected that the Axarquía’s main water supply will hit those same figures by the end of this September.
Faced with this bleak scenario, in which the hitherto thriving subtropical fruit sector is bearing the brunt, the Mancomunidad de Municipios, which oversees the town halls in the Axarquía, has called upon the 31 local authorities in the area to take action.
Of the 31, some 14 towns and villages are supplied by the reservoir (Almáchar, Benamargosa, Benamocarra, El Borge, Comares, Cútar, Iznate, Macharaviaya, Moclinejo, Rincón de la Victoria, Vélez-Málaga, Totalán, Algarrobo and Torrox) with a combined population of 180,000 people.
Nerja is not supplied by the Viñuela dam, but by its own resources from the River Chíllar. However, it is within the so-called regulation zone (Zona con Regulación Viñuela-Axarquía) because water will be transferred from the Chillar river to Torrox, Algarrobo and the eastern part of Vélez-Málaga for human consumption once work has been completed.
The vice-president of the company, Gregorio Campos, proposed yesterday (Tuesday 19 July) during a Mancomunidad meeting that all 31 municipalities establish water saving plans to reduce water consumption by 20 per cent. "This measure is included in the drought decree issued by the Junta de Andalucía," said Campos.
"The resources of the La Viñuela reservoir must be preserved, so in addition to the decisions already taken, others must be adopted as soon as possible," he added.
Campos listed the additional measures envisaged: "It establishes the prohibition of using water resources fit for human consumption for street washing, filling private swimming pools, watering gardens, public and private parks, golf courses, car washes outside authorised establishments, ornamental fountains that do not have a closed water circuit, showers and public pumps," quoted the vice-president of Axaragua.
"The drought decree also states that water unfit for human consumption may be used for the survival irrigation of gardens, public parks and golf courses, being restricted to a maximum of 200 cubic metres per hectare per month," he added. Finally, Campos called for activation or increase of the use of underground resources for urban supply.
With regard to the additional water resources that appear in the drought decree for the Viñuela-Axarquia system currently being carried out by the Junta de Andalucía, some of them, including the use of resources from the Chíllar river and the increase in transfer capacity between the Guadalhorce-Limonero and Axarquia systems, "are not finalised, although according to what we are told they are in their final phase," Campos reported.
In the first case, the transfer from Nerja, the resources will not be available until the end of August or the beginning of September. The supply of 150 litres per second from the capital has been interrupted since the beginning of the summer, although it is hoped that it can be resumed this month.