La Concepción reservoir near Marbella. / file photo - josele

Costa del Sol wants direct control over some of the water in a new Campo de Gibraltar reservoir

Acosol says a direct pipeline is needed from the new Gibralmedina reservoir so it doesn't have to rely on intermediaries for supplies

FRANCISCO JIMÉNEZ / IGNACIO LILLO MALAGA.

The new Gibralmedina reservoir which the Junta de Andalucía plans to build in the Campo de Gibraltar area of Cadiz province is seen as the best solution in the medium and long term to guarantee water supplies on the Costa del Sol.

This is hardly surprising: it is the main alternative to the plan to enlarge La Concepción reservoir, which currently supplies all the towns on the western coast of Malaga but has such limited capacity (61.8 cubic hectometres) that it can barely guarantee supplies at present, let alone in the future. This is why other sources are already having to be used, such as aquifers in the Sierra de Mijas, a desalination plant and buying water from the Campo de Gibraltar.

The new reservoir would be in Jimena de la Frontera (Cadiz) and at present the plans are still being drawn up. It is known, however, that it will cost around 239 million euros, and the construction works would take place between 2027 and 2033.

Depending on the different options which are currently being studied, it could hold between 45 and 60 Hm3 from the Guadiaro, the only sizeable river in Andalucía without a regulation system despite being in one of the areas with the most rainfall.

But even though the new reservoir will be in another province and run by a different authority, the Acosol water company which manages supplies to the Costa del Sol not only wants the amount of water it can take from it each year guaranteed, but also wants some form of control. Acosol will want direct access to the supply without having to rely on intermediaries, which in this case would be the Mancomunidad de Municipios of the Campo de Gibraltar, through its company Arcgisa.

Relations between the two areas have always been good, and there is already an agreement whereby Acosol can buy at least 7 Hm3 a year as long as it does not affect consumption and irrigation in Cadiz province. But who knows what could happen in the future, with something this valuable during periods of drought? That is what concerns Acosol's managing director, Carlos Cañavate.

"The idea is that 'x' amount of water will belong to the Costa del Sol; in other words the water doesn't go first to the Campo de Gibraltar and then they let us have some of what's left, because a conflict could arise in the long term. We have always got on well and have never had a problem with them, but we can't be dependent on the goodwill of other places," he says.

How much water would the Costa need? "The Campo de Gibraltar needs about 15 Hm3, so the rest could be for us, but I'm not just thinking of the Costa del Sol, but Malaga city and the Axarquía as well," he says.

Arcgisa's solution to this is for there to be an outlet from the reservoir so that water can be transferred to the Guadarranque reservoir and for that to be used for the Costa del Sol if necessary. This is the proposal currently included in the plans.

Acosol, however, wants there to be a direct pipe to a new treatment station which will be built in Manilva, and from there the water will be pumped into the large pipeline which runs all along the coast to Torremolinos.