SUR

The Junta awards the contract to put an end to sewage in the Guadalhorce river

The metropolitan treatment plant for Malaga, conceived 15 years ago, will cost 105 million euros and will not be ready until mid-2025

FRANCISCO JIMÉNEZ MALAGA.

It has taken longer than expected, but at last the Junta de Andalucía has awarded the contract for the biggest sewage treatment project still outstanding in Malaga province: the metropolitan plant which was conceived 15 years ago to stop sewage being released into the Guadalhorce river from Alhaurín el Grande and Cártama.

These are the two biggest places in Andalucía which lack sewage treatment facilities, and every year 5.9 cubic hectometres of waste end up in the principal river in Malaga province. This is the equivalent of 1,750 Olympic-size swimming pools or 200,000 tanker lorries. It will also ease the pressure on the treatment plant on the Guadalhorce industrial estate in Malaga, which is at full capacity as it also treats waste from Alhaurín de la Torre and outlying areas as well as all the future development north and west of the city.

Just over a year after putting the contract out to tender, the regional Agriculture ministry has awarded it to a temporary joint company formed by Aquambiente, Dinotec and Sando for 104.9 million euros.

The project is expected to take 42 months to complete, so the plant will not be in operation until mid-2025. Until then, the cost of the penalty from the EU for the lack of sewage treatment in Alhaurín el Grande will continue to rise.

In July it was 4.07 million euros and there is an extra charge of 634,320 euros for every six month delay. This means that by the time the plant is ready, the amount will be around nine million euros. As if that were not enough, it is not yet known what action the EU will take about the problems in Cártama.

Complaints over the location

Around 300 families from different areas of Alhaurín de la Torre are unhappy about the proposed location of the sewage plant and have formed a protest group because of the impact it will have on their homes and agricultural land. These complaints were rejected, to prevent any further delays in treating the waste from Cártama and Alhaurín el Grande, and, at the same time, stop the fines from the EU increasing even more.