Water levels at La Viñuela. / ÑITO SALAS

Creative solutions are being used to bring supply to the water-hungry Axarquía

The local water company is buying supply from the Malaga city area with plans to increase the amounts transferred

EUGENIO CABEZAS AXARQUÍA.

The threat of drought is growing in the Axarquía district on the eastern Costa after a very dry start to autumn. Although some rain fell in the eastern region of Malaga province recently, 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 Axarquía, to which will be added, in the first quarter of next year, a similar amount from the Chíllar river.

The threat of drought is growing in the Axarquía after a dry start to the autumn and La Viñuela continues to lose reserves The "water motorway" to bring water from La Concepción and the western Costa is expected to be ready by February

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 pipes of Torrox, Algarrobo and the eastern coast of Vélez-Málaga.

Vice-president of the local public water company 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.

Upgrades to pumping plants

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.

A pumping station in Malaga city will also be improved over the next six months to bring more to the Axarquía from the Guadalhorce-Limonero reservoir system.

Meanwhile, crop farmers, especially of the water-hungry avocado and mango, are busy taking things into their own hands, contracting water tankers to fill up water tanks on their land in case the long-hoped-for rain does not arrive.