Tuesday, 14 February 2023, 23:40
Axarquía-based environmental action group GENA-Ecologistas en Acción has filed a complaint with the regional government, the Junta de Andalucía, over what it believes is the illegal use of water from the River Guaro for the irrigation of subtropical fruit plantations in the Axarquía village of Periana.
The environmentalists said in a statement last Thursday (9 February) that they have been able to see for some time that “there is water flowing from the River Guaro for irrigation of avocado trees that have been planted on previously unirrigated land".
According to the group led by the biologist Rafael Yus, "There is also a well a few metres from the riverbed that captures water from the same river, the legality of which should be checked."
He went on to say, "Just behind the old mill ruins there are the rubber bands in the river bed, the chamber with the motor and the distribution valves. The water is pumped from the river to an enormous, recently built pool, located in what used to be the Cortijo Colodra or Guerrero, which is used to irrigate various avocado plantations.”
GENA says it has "proof" that this plot of land has gone from being unirrigated to irrigated. "A huge number of avocado trees on unirrigated land that require a large amount of water, which we doubt the owners have, unless they are using the urban water supply, as in fact occurred a few months ago in this same village," Yus highlighted.
According to the environmentalist, in 2017 the plots were being used for arable crops, possibly barley, but by 2021 avocado trees filled the entire area; some 47 hectares, which run from the River Guaro.
"We consider this irrigation to be irregular for several reasons. Firstly, it doesn’t have the correct permit. Secondly, it is being irrigated in a period when there are serious irrigation restrictions due to the drought; a state in which we are still in. Finally, this conversion of the unirrigated land into subtropical irrigation, without having its own, or legally granted, water resources, also constitutes another illegality," argued the GENA spokesman.
Yus pointed out that La Viñuela reservoir, currently at 11 per cent capacity with just 18 cubic hectometres of water stored, is mainly supplied by water from the River Guaro, "so the abstraction of water for irrigation is a theft of resources that had another destination. The Guaro Plan is the only irrigation plan associated with the reservoir and, according to the existing decree, only supplies irrigated plots located in the fertile lowlands of the River Vélez, after the reservoir, from an altitude of 140 metres above sea level." Yus stressed that the plots in question "are not only stealing water destined for the reservoir, but are being irrigated outside of the Guaro Plan".
SUR has tried, so far without success, to obtain the view on the matter of the regional government, as the competent authority for water in Malaga province and in the Andalusian Mediterranean Basin.
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