Nerja's waste water treatment plant has been in operation since October 2020. SUR
Axarquía growers request access to water from Nerja treatment plant

Axarquía growers request access to water from Nerja treatment plant

Mayor of Nerja José Alberto Armijo has called on Andalucía’s regional administration to give "preferential use" to local farmers

Eugenio Cabezas


Wednesday, 24 May 2023, 16:54


The recent rain has done little to alleviate the critical drought situation in the Axarquía area of the Costa del Sol, where growers of the 14,000 hectares of subtropical crops are, for the first time, facing a summer without water from La Viñuela reservoir, which is currently at less than 10 per cent full, with just 16 cubic hectometres stored.

Regenerated water from the area’s sewage treatment plants is going some way to alleviate the crisis, however it is not enough as it reaches just 3,200 of the 6,300 hectares of crops located at under 140 metres above sea level, as part of the so-called Guaro Plan.

The more than 20 other groups, which in total have over 3,000 hectares, with no other resources than wells or rivers have joined together. These farmers, located on the left bank of the River Vélez, which is located to the west of Torre del Mar, are going to formalise this week the request to the Junta de Andalucía to be able to use regenerated water from Rincón de la Victoria and El Peñón del Cuervo sewage treatment plants and whose pipelines are being completed via emergency works along the promenade in Rincón de la Victoria.

They have also asked the regional administration to provide them with access to reclaimed water from the Nerja treatment plant, which has been operational since October 2020, but the tertiary system is not yet available. The Junta announced, in its last drought decree, the third in three years, that it would implement these resources for the Axarquía’s growers’ communities.

The Junta Central de Regantes de la Axarquia are meeting today (Thursday 25 May) in Vélez-Málaga to approve the commissioning of a preliminary project to determine the cost and design of the pipeline needed to bring these resources to farms in Vélez-Málaga and Algarrobo, among other towns, which would require a route of some twenty kilometres, very similar to the one being installed in Rincón de la Victoria and Malaga city and which is receiving an investment of 42 million euros, financed entirely by the Junta de Andalucía.

High levels of salt

Gil regretted that his community, with some 800 hectares, is still unable to use the reclaimed water from the treatment plant, due to the high salt levels that the analyses are showing, above 4,000 points, which makes its use in agriculture unviable, due to the risk of salt in the soil. "The Junta tells us that they are working to solve the problem in Caleta port, where there are seawater drains that go to the sewage network," explained Gil, who is confident that these resources will be available before July.

Mayor of Nerja, José Alberto Armijo has demanded that the treated local water "should have preferential use for the farmers of Nerja and Maro as well as for municipal services". The mayor stressed in a statement that "as soon as the government of Spain puts the treatment plant with tertiary treatment into operation and cedes its facilities to the town hall, the treated water will be used preferentially to meet the needs of our farmers and municipal services. This is an essential issue for the present and future of Nerja.

José Alberto Armijo also called on the authorities responsible for water infrastructures to build the desalination plant for the Costa del Sol Oriental Axarquía region. "We can't waste another minute. This infrastructure and all the others necessary to guarantee the water supply must be built as soon as possible," he said.

The president of the Junta de Andalucía, Juanma Moreno, promised to award the contract for a desalination plant before the end of June during an election campaign visit to Torre del Mar earlier this month.

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