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La Viñuela is only 15 per cent full. ñito salas
Emergency works under way to alleviate the drought in the Axarquía

Emergency works under way to alleviate the drought in the Axarquía

The Junta de Andalucía is investing 7.5 million euros in a number of projects to guarantee water supplies to the area of the province which is of most concern

Francisco Jiménez

Friday, 18 February 2022, 10:39

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The threat of drought is hanging over the whole of Malaga province but it is La Axarquía that is causing the greatest concern, because the area’s main source of water, La Viñuela reservoir, is likely to be declared ‘dead’ unless there is significant rain over the next few months. At present Malaga’s biggest reservoir contains only 15 per cent of its capacity: 24.7 cubic hectometres of water compared with the 165.4 that it would hold if it were full.

In mid-2021 the Junta de Andalucía approved a series of emergency works to alleviate some of the foreseeable problems. These are costing 7.5 million euros in total and several of the projects are due to be completed in the next few months.

One is the Churriana bypass, which is part of an overall plan to double the capacity of existing pipelines and move water from places which have a surplus to others between the Campo de Gibraltar and La Axarquía with a shortage. This section of the project will cost 1.4 million euros and is due to be completed in April.

In 2019 three wells were created in the Chíllar river at Nerja but the 5.3 Hm3 of water they could contribute to the network have never been used because they were not connected to the power supply to pump the water. This is about to be rectified at a cost of 594,000 euros, and the project should also be completed by April.

By June it should be possible to transfer water from Malaga city to the eastern coast of the province, when improvements are made to La Rosaleda pumping station so that water can be transferred in both directions. This will increase the resources available between the Guadalhorce-Limonero System and La Viñuela reservoir, at a cost of 598,850 euros.

The Junta de Andalucía is also enlarging El Atabal desalination plant, which receives water from the Guadalhorce reservoirs which supply Malaga city. This project, at a cost of 3.15 million euros, will enable the authorities to anticipate problems which could affect the city when there is a lack of rain, but the plan was basically conceived so that more water can be transferred to La Axarquía. These works are expected to be completed by November.

The Junta is also keen to extend the use of recycled water from sewage plants for irrigation, so that less is used from the reservoirs and aquifers. The sewage plants in La Axarquía have the capacity to treat 8.4 cubic hectometres a year, but are only reusing 2,000 cubic metres from the Rincón de la Victoria plant to water Añoreta golf course and, since last November, 9,000 m3 a day from the Vélez plant to irrigate 2,700 hectares of crops, mainly subtropical fruits. This situation should improve considerably in the spring when the emergency works at the Rincón, Vélez and two Torrox stations are able to carry out the tertiary filtering works which enable waste water to be reused. That project, which is costing 1.77 million euros, will be ready in May and will provide an extra nine Hm3 a year.

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