The extraordinary amount of airborne dust from the Sahara desert in the calima which affected Malaga province in March gave councils and individuals a great deal of extra cleaning work, especially on whitewashed buildings which were stained orange-brown. Cleaning businesses, painters and companies that make cleaning products suddenly found that spring had become their busiest time of year.
In Frigiliana, which boasts of being one of the whitest of Andalucía's ‘pueblos blancos’, took the task very seriously, so in recent weeks a lot of cleaning and painting work has been going on. In return, to offset the extra cost involved, the council has approved a 40% reduction in the water bills for the second quarter of the year, which are due next month. This amounts to an overall reduction of 46,000 euros from the fixed charges and sewage charge for the village’s 3,000 residents.
“We decided to do it this way, rather than give grants, because that would have been more complicated from a fiscal point of view,” said the mayor, Alejandro Herrero. The council will pay the Aqualia water company the difference from the 170,000 euros provided by the Malaga provincial authority as a contribution to the clean-up costs. “We hope to have the village completely free of calima before the fair, or by San Juan, at least” Herrero said.
He also explained that the council does not yet know exactly how much extra water was used to clean the stains from the village buildings. In the case of the town hall, the water used was recycled from the sewage plant.
“Luckily in Frigiliana we don’t have any supply problems despite the drought, although the cost of water for agricultural irrigation has had to be increased from 30 céntimos a litre to 60 due to the cost of powering the pumping station,” he said.