La Concepción reservoir, between Marbella and Istán, is currently at 75% of its capacity. Josele
Main reservoir that supplies western strip of Costa del Sol with tap water surpasses last year's levels
Drought crisis

Main reservoir that supplies western strip of Costa del Sol with tap water surpasses last year's levels

Runoff from the recent storms is now coming to an end at Marbella's La Concepción with 43.11 hm3 stored as of Tuesday, so the level will begin to drop in the next few days

Chus Heredia


Wednesday, 8 May 2024, 10:50


On 8 March, Malaga province's reservoirs stood at just 97 cubic hectometres. This Tuesday 7 May, they exceeded 170. The generous rains of the storms Monica and Nelson and subsequent weeks of runoff has now boosted the surface reservoir situation to the point where only Malaga city is worse off compared to the same time last year.

Late on Tuesday, La Concepción reservoir between Marbella and Istán - the main supply for the western strip of the Costa del Sol, made this leap, although the level of incoming water is now practically balanced with that of consumption and evaporation.

At 9pm it was already equal to last year's figures at this time of year, with 43.11 hm3. This remained the case until after midnight, when, due to the drop in pressure in the Costa del Sol taps, the "turn of the screw" was mathematically confirmed. This is proof of the response capacity of a very grateful reservoir which, for the first time in history, is the one that holds the most water in Malaga province. In the next few days, unless there are unexpected rains, it will start to lose water again as the weather gets hotter and usage goes up.

Insufficient capacity

Its capacity is at the same time its weakness. The reservoir receives inflows from the Verde and the triple feeds of the Guadaiza, Guadalmina and Guadalmansa. Its 57 hm3 (data from the latest bathymetry of 2022) are clearly insufficient to guarantee water to the coast for more than eight months.

This initiated a project to increase the size of the reservoir, which the Junta has not taken on, instead opting for the Gibralmedina project, on the Guadiaro river, between Cadiz and Malaga provinces, to constantly supply raw water from there to the Costa del Sol (15 hm3 per year). The latest rains mean La Concepción, where all alarms had been raised at the start of the year when the reservoir was only 13 hm3, is now 75% full.

Climbing two steps

The data projections for the high season months show the reservoir, between Marbella and Istán, could reach October, which is the start of the hydrological year, with around 30 hm3 - this would mean two steps above the severe drought status (moderate level). This will be helped by the first phase of the extension of the Marbella desalination plant which will be operational this summer, providing up to 1 hm3 per month, which will increase to almost two in autumn.

In the Axarquia, on the other hand, they will remain at a serious level despite the La Viñuela reservoir tripling its level in the past two months and storing 31.60 hm3, double that of this time last year. In fact, the Axarquía will stop receiving water from Malaga city over the next few months.

Of the reservoirs in the Guadalhorce-Limonero system that supplies Malaga city, only the Conde de Guadalhorce is in a better situation than last year, exceeding 85 hm3, which is 14 hm3 above the severe drought threshold.

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