Wednesday, 26 July 2023, 14:08
The Axarquía currently has enough water to supply the population for a further six months and the current rate of decline of La Viñuela reservoir is around 0.2 cubic hectometres per week, according to the latest statistics.
On Tuesday 25 July the water reserve recorded just 8.8 per cent capacity, begging the question: for how much longer will there be water in the reservoir, which supplies some 220,000 inhabitants in 14 municipalities?
The answer is complex and there are many factors that need to be taken into account: one of course is evaporation - this decline is happening in the middle of a record-breaking hot summer. Secondly, water is being transferred from Malaga city and the Chíllar river in Nerja to reduce dependence on the reservoir, which supplies Almáchar, Benamargosa, Benamocarra, El Borge, Comares, Cútar, Iznate, Macharaviaya, Moclinejo, Rincón de la Victoria, Vélez-Málaga, Totalán, Algarrobo and Torrox.
If the water transfers to the Axarquía continue at the current rate, with some 300 litres per second from the city and 80 litres per second from the Nerja aquifer, some 5.5 cubic hectometres could theoretically still be extracted from the reservoir, since, according to its chief operator, Francisco López, below 8.96 cubic hectometres it would be technically impossible to continue to do so with any guarantee of safety. As things stand, there is still enough water in the reservoir for about six months, as long as the water supply from Malaga and Nerja is maintained.
These extraordinary resources are not guaranteed beyond 30 September, which is when the current water calendar comes to an end and a new one must be established from 1 October. This is when the Junta de Andalucía, as the administration responsible for water management in the region, will once again convene a drought management committee to agree on planning for the coming months. At the last meeting, held in mid-June, it was agreed that the Axarquía would have to reduce its consumption of drinking water by 20 per cent, while in the rest of Malaga province it is just 10 per cent.
As SUR has previously reported, there are already at least eight municipalities in the province that are applying different types of restrictions on consumption. The Junta maintains that each municipality has the "freedom and autonomy" to decide whether or not to cut water supplies, as long as it reduces consumption by the 20 per cent stipulated in the drought decree. The water supply from Malaga city to the Axarquía is subject to the city, with a population of almost 580,000 inhabitants, being able to guarantee supply next year if there is not enough rain to start to reverse the situation in autumn.
The vice-president of the public water company Axaragua, Gregorio Campos, and the managing director, Raúl Peña, chaired a new meeting on Tuesday 25 July with the mayors of towns and villages supplied by the La Viñuela, to assess the latest situation.
In a press release following the meeting, Campos reported that this week the Axarquía has managed to reduce consumption by 19 per cent "complying with the limits set by the Junta de Andalucía".
"Our thanks to the population for the effort they are making so that together we can reduce consumption in the face of the extreme drought, especially the Axarquía region," Campos said and reminded the population of the importance of "small domestic gestures” to help alleviate the crisis.
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