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La Viñuela reservoir in the Axarquía is less than 7.6% full. E. Cabezas
Drought-stricken Malaga province reservoir to receive water feed from the mountains
Drought crisis

Drought-stricken Malaga province reservoir to receive water feed from the mountains

Work has started to connect wells in the Sierra Tejeda-Almijara to La Viñuela reservoir in the Axarquía, which remains at a critical level

Eugenio Cabezas

Axarquía

Tuesday, 13 February 2024

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One of the many projects taking place in Malaga province to try to tackle the drought crisis is the commissioning of new boreholes in the foothills of the Sierras Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama mountains, on the border between Malaga and Granada provinces.

Work has already begun to connect the wells with La Viñuela reservoir in the Axarquía area to the east of Malaga province, which is currently at a record low with less than 7.6% of its capacity.

According to calculations by the Junta de Andalucía, these boreholes could provide around 50 litres per second, which would mean a total of around two cubic hectometres per year. This water would then be treated at the El Trapiche drinking water treatment plant in Vélez-Málaga, managed by the public water company Axaragua.

Extraordinary resource

President of Axaragua, Jorge Martín, told SUR that this intervention "will help to restore some of the reservoir’s depleted reserves, bringing new water resources to the Viñuela system". At the moment water supply to the 14 towns and villages in the Axarquía that get their water from the reservoir is largely coming from contributions from reservoirs in Malaga city, at a rate of 270-280 litres per second and a further 80-100 litres per second that arrive from the River Chíllar in Nerja.

As part of the fourth drought decree, a portable desalination plant will also be installed at the El Trapiche water treatment plant to treat the remaining reserves in the reservoir itself. These resources could provide a further four cubic hectometres per year for the supply of the 220,000 inhabitants served by Axaragua.

As a last resort and as "an extraordinary resource", Axaragua are also contemplating the use of tankers with treated drinking water. However, the high cost of these services, at between seven and eight euros per cubic metre, make it "unfeasible" for the company, which is part of the Mancomunidad de Municipios association of town halls in the Axarquía to take on this initiative alone.

"We have held an initial meeting with a company that could provide the service from the desalination plants in Almeria, but Caleta harbour doesn’t have space for these ships, so they would have to be in the bay of Malaga and transported [to the Axarquía]," explained Martin.

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