The Peñón del Cuervo waste water treatment plant / Salvador Salas

Junta activates urgent works to send more water to growers in the Axarquía

Recycled waste water for irrigation will be piped from the Peñón del Cuervo treatment plant in Malaga city, at a cost of 27 million euros

Francisco Jiménez
FRANCISCO JIMÉNEZ MALAGA.

In the absence of rain and with the project for a desalination plant still in very early stages, the recycling of waste water is becoming the main alternative for the subtropical fruit sector in the Axarquía to deal with the drought. Farmers are no longer able to access water from La Viñuela reservoir, which is at 9.4 per cent of its capacity with just 15.5 cubic hectometres stored.

As such, the Junta de Andalucía approved on Wednesday 16 November emergency works to start up the recycling of water at the Peñón del Cuervo waste water treatment plant and its connection with the Rincón de la Victoria plant so that, from there, it can reach farmland in the Axarquía. This new project, which will require an estimated investment of 27 million euros, will provide a further 9.1 Hm3 of water to the area per year.

The regional government has made a commitment to recycled waste water as a resource in recent months, with the implementation the recycling system at the Vélez-Málaga, Rincón de la Victoria, Algarrobo and Torrox treatment plants, which put together, will allow some 9 Hm3 of water per year to be used for irrigation.

However, it is still insufficient to reduce dependence on the reservoir and the wells in the area, which is why the Peñón del Cuervo treatment plant in Malaga city will also be used to send more water to the Axarquía. The project will be carried out urgently in order to speed up the process.

Invitation to submit bids

According to the Junta’s agriculture department, the intention is that work can begin at the end of this year or the beginning of 2023. This will be achieved by considerably speeding up the contracting deadlines because instead of calling a public tender, three companies have been invited to submit their bids. The basic project is already ready, after the municipal water company (Emasa) laid the foundations for the work to activate the flow of water from Malaga city to Rincón de la Victoria.

From there, the next step would be to build the necessary pipes to carry them to the Rincón plant, where work has just begun to create 9.1 kilometres of piping that will transport the 3.29 Hm3 that this station will regenerate to the crops in the Axarquía.

With the array of emergency works in progress, the Junta's forecast is that the Axarquía will have an additional 31 Hm3 of water from next year, of which 21 Hm3 will be for irrigation with the recycled water and another ten for domestic supply, thanks to the transfer from the El Atabal desalination plant through the reversible pump at La Rosaleda reservoir, which will provide about six Hm3; and the wells of the river Chíllar (Nerja) which will add another four.