The Chillar river in Nerja will provide the Axarquía with water from next year / e. cabezas

Axarquía to receive water from Malaga city and Chíllar river to guarantee supply

The transfer of resources is needed due to the low level of La Viñuela reservoir, at 18.47% of its capacity

Eugenio Cabezas

The threat of drought is growing in the Axarquía district on the eastern Costa del Sol after a very dry start to autumn. Although some rainfall fell in the in the eastern region of Malaga province this weekend, La Viñuela reservoir continues to lose reserves. On Wednesday last week it was at 18.47% of its capacity, with just 30.55 cubic hectometres stored, compared to 44.04 a year ago.

Faced with this bleak outlook, and after reducing the allocation for subtropical irrigation in October by 33 per cent, from 3,000 to 2,000 cubic metres per hectare, the regional government has taken the step to guarantee the supply of around 208,000 inhabitants of the Axarquía.

The drought management committee agreed at its last session to authorise the transfer of three cubic hectometres of water from Malaga city to the Axarquia, to which will be added, in the first quarter of next year, a similar amount from the River Chíllar.

With these six cubic hectometres, the Axarquía should have guaranteed water resources in the coming months, even in a scenario of low or no rainfall.

The Chíllar river connection is pending the completion of electrical work and the installation of a system for chlorinating the water. When complete, it will reach the supply of Torrox, Algarrobo and the eastern coast of Vélez-Málaga.

Vice-president of Axaragua, Gregorio Campos, acknowledged that due to the low level of water in La Viñuela reservoir, there is a greater presence of heavy metals and the company is experiencing "more and more problems" to make the water drinkable at the El Trapiche water station.

The Junta de Andalucía has begun work this month to upgrade four of the treatment plants in the Axarquía (Vélez-Málaga, Rincón de la Victoria and two in Torrox) for the use of recycled water for irrigation, at a cost of 1.7 million euros. These resources are expected to be available next spring, providing between eight and ten cubic hectometres per year.