Cártama's sewage is released directly into the Guadalhorce river. / ñito salas

New Malaga-Norte sewage plant should be ready by late 2025, after 15-year wait

The facility will put an end to waste from Alhaurín el Grande and Cártama being released into the Guadalhorce river and to the mounting fines from the EU

FRANCISCO JIMÉNEZ Malaga

It has taken 15 years since the project for Malaga’s metropolitan sewage plant was first proposed, but it looks as if the plans which will stop 5.9 cubic hectometres of sewage a year (the equivalent of 1,750 Olympic swimming pools) being released into the Guadalhorce river from Alhaurín el Grande and Cártama may finally be going ahead.

The Junta de Andalucía has just formalised the details for the construction of the sewage plant, to the north of the airport, on the boundary with Alhaurín de la Torre, and the pipelines to it. This has come six months after the contract was awarded and the expenditure approved. Bearing in mind that it will take six months for the plans to be drawn up, 30 months for the construction and another six to put it into operation, the Malaga-Norte sewage plant will not be fully operative until the last quarter of 2025. However, there will be plans to partially treat the sewage from Alhaurín el Grande and Cártama before then.

Environmental damage

Why? Because of the environmental damage, and also for financial reasons. By then, the fine from the EU for the lack of sewage treatment in Alhaurín el Grande will have built up even more. In January it already stood at 4.7 million euros, and there is an additional charge of 634,320 euros for every six month delay. If all goes according to schedule, the Junta de Andalucía will end up paying around nine million euros in penalties.

The new plant will also treat the sewage from Alhaurín de la Torre and the districts of Santa Rosalía, Maqueda, Santa Águeda, Castañetas, Campanillas and all the future development to the north and west of Malaga city. At present the Guadalhorce plant treats the sewage from those areas, but it is already at full capacity.

Recycled water

The Malaga-Norte plant will be able to treat 70,000 m3 a day (the equivalent to the sewage from a population of 280,000 inhabitants) and will include a tertiary system to provide recycled water for irrigation purposes, although the pipes will need to be installed for that purpose. At first, though, as that will be a separate project, when the plant is first in operation the treated waste will be released into the river.