La Viñuela reservoir in the Axarquía still only holds 10.8% of its capacity, despite the recent rain. / ÑITO SALAS

Recent rain has raised reservoir levels in the province but not enough to end the drought

Altogether reservoirs in the province gained over 17 cubic hectometres of water, but La Viñuela, in the Axarquía, remains almost empty

IGNACIO LILLO MALAGA.

The rain which has fallen so far in December has brought some relief to the depleted water reserves in Malaga province, but was not enough to make much difference. The 17 cubic hectometres gained by reservoirs is the equivalent of the amount consumed in the province in just over two months, at an average of eight Hm3 per month.

However, every little helps and it is positive news that the reservoirs are generally in a better condition now than they were a year ago. The 222.5 Hm3 stored (36.4% of capacity) are ten more than in December last year, according to figures from the Junta de Andalucía's Red Hidrosur, water network and of course the rain has come as a considerable relief to the agricultural sector (especially those who grow sub-tropical fruits in the Axarquía).

  • Reservoir Current state Vol 2022 Vol. 2021

  • La Concepción 62 9% 36.5 26

  • Gualteba 55 6% 85.2 85.6

  • Casasola 50% 10 9 10.2

  • El Limonero 40 4% 9 10.5

  • Guadalhorce 35 2% 44.3 36

  • Conde de Guadalhorce 28 9% 19.2 15.9

  • La Viñuela 10,8% 17,7 28,1

In reality, though, it is clear that some areas have benefited more than others. La Concepción reservoir in Marbella, for example, which supplies the Costa del Sol, received an extra ten cubic hectometres and is now over 62% full with more than 36.5 Hm3. At the opposite end of the scale is La Viñuela in the Axarquía, which is now 10.8% full with 17.7 Hm3 (+2.5).

It is true that La Viñuela has been 'resuscitated' after having been almost completely empty, but the water flowing in from the Guaro river and other tributaries is still not enough. The area remains in a situation of drought emergency, and the reservoir contains 10 Hm3 less than it did a year ago.

There is not much to celebrate in the Guadalhorce system either, the three reservoirs which supply Malaga city and the Guadalhorce valley. The amount of water in the Guadalteba reservoir is practically unchanged, although it does contain more than any other in the province (85 Hm3) and is 55.6% full. The Guadalhorce reservoir has gained an extra three Hm3, and Del Conde an extra two.

Unequal rainfall

Lastly, the province also has two small reservoirs whose aim is not to store water (although it is used) but to prevent rivers overflowing: Casasola and El Limonero, both on the outskirts of Malaga city.

Casasola, which regulates the Campanillas river, currently contains nearly 11 Hm3 of water, and El Limonero has barely changed at all since the rains began, with a current nine Hm3.

This may seem strange, bearing in mind the amount of rain which fell in the province in the first half of this month, followed by Storm Ephrain, especially in the Serranía de Ronda and on the western Costa del Sol. However, the reason for the difference is that the amount of rain which fell was not equal in all areas.

The weather station at Malaga airport, which is managed by the Aemet weather agency, has registered 140 litres of rainfall per square metre so far this month, and this is considerably higher than the previous record for December, which was 100 litres per square metre.

It also means that in just two weeks Malaga city received one-quarter of its normal annual rainfall (the average between 1981 and 2010 was 534 litres per square metre).

But in inland areas of the province, a great deal more rain fell than that. The wettest recorded was the Guadiaro river, on the boundary between Malaga and Cadiz provinces, which received 321 litres per square metre, followed by the Genal river at Jubrique (307) and Los Reales de Sierra Bermeja (296), according to the statistics for accumulated rainfall between 5 and 16 December which have just been issued by Red Hidrosur.