The Costa del Sol, teetering on the brink of a drought emergency

The Costa del Sol, teetering on the brink of a drought emergency

The Junta de Andalucía will decide on Friday whether to expand the declaration which already applies to La Axarquía and place Malaga city on a state of alert

Francisco Jiménez


Wednesday, 9 March 2022, 10:56

Unless the heavens open and there is heavy rain in the next few days, the declaration of drought emergency that has applied to La Axarquía for months will be extended to the western Costa del Sol, while Malaga city, where the lack of water is less serious, will pass from a state of pre-alert to alert. This will be decided by the regional government’s Drought Management Committee on Friday.

The meeting will also consider whether to reduce supplies for irrigation in La Axarquía still further; they were cut by 33 per cent in October.

The document that acts as a road map to dealing with the drought said that the western Costa del Sol would be in an exceptional situation if La Concepción reservoir contains less than 35.6 cubic hectometres on 1 March. That figure was reached weeks ago, and now the reservoir holds just 23.3 Hm3, which is 37.7 per cent of capacity.

In Malaga city, the three reservoirs which supply it (Guadalhorce, Guadalteba and Conde del Guadalhorce) dropped below 140 Hm3 over a month ago and now hold a total of 127.6 Hm3, but the worst case is La Viñuela, which is on the point of being declared a dead reservoir because it only holds 23.6 Hm3 compared with the 165.4 if it would contain if it were full.

What would happen?

What would happen if the Costa and the city enter this new phase? At present there are no plans to reduce supplies to households, but the capacity of the desalination plant in Marbella would be increased to 10 Hm3/year, the wells in Fuengirola would supply 0.450 Hm3/month and water could be supplied from the Campo de Gibraltar (if available) and also from the Guadalhorce-Limonero system.

Malaga city still has enough water for two years, but plans are being made for measures there in case there is insufficient rainfall this spring.



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