What the Guadalhorce river bank looks like at near Santa Amalia. Salvador Salas
The dirty truth about the Guadalhorce: sewage, rubbish and dead animals

The dirty truth about the Guadalhorce: sewage, rubbish and dead animals

Antisocial behaviour and a lack of monitoring have left the part of the river between Alhaurín de la Torre and Campanillas full of rubbish

Francisco Jiménez


Friday, 9 June 2023, 20:29


There are many parts of the Guadalhorce river that are full of natural beauty, from its source to the sea. However, the most significant river in the Malaga province also has a hidden side, a very dirty one.

This is mainly due to the fact that the wastewater treatment plant, which has been planned for years, still hasn't been built, meaning sewage from Alhaurín el Grande and Cártama is discharged at a rate of 5.9 cubic hectometres per year (equivalent to 1,750 Olympic-sized swimming pools).

As if this pollution was not enough, the riverbed and its surroundings now face the combination of antisocial behaviour and a lack of monitoring from the the relevant authorities, including town councils and the Andalusian government.

The result? Sights like the ones photographed on the stretch of river which acts as a border between Alhaurín de la Torre and the city of Malaga: where Santa Amalia meets Las Castañetas and Santa Águeda in the district of Campanillas.

Rubble and waste from various origins, the riverbank covered in white foam , water with a bluish tone, an unbearable bad smell and even a dead animal (that appeared to be a foal) in the irrigation ditch running parallel to the river.

It was half submerged, swollen, decomposing and covered in flies.

Salvador Salas
Imagen principal - The dirty truth about the Guadalhorce: sewage, rubbish and dead animals
Imagen secundaria 1 - The dirty truth about the Guadalhorce: sewage, rubbish and dead animals
Imagen secundaria 2 - The dirty truth about the Guadalhorce: sewage, rubbish and dead animals

"I don't understand how these situations are allowed to happen. I have a plot nearby and come quite often, it is always like this, with the disgusting water and rubble on the paths. People won't change," complained Roberto Morillo, who as well as condemning people's bad habits thinks more monitoring and control is necessary to stop these habits.

"As soon as I saw the dead animal on a Sunday I phoned the Guardia Civil, but they told me to call the Local Police in Alhaurín. And from there they told me to call Seprona [the Guardia Civil nature protection service]," he said.

By the Monday at noon the animal was still there, decaying.

Given the situation, Roberto questioned whether this neglect is in line with the Green Corridor project that the provincial authority is promoting for the Guadalhorce, with riverside walks and viewpoints.

The 54-kilometre route will join the eight municipalities of the lower river basin (Álora, Ardales, Pizarra. Alhaurín el Grande, Coín, Cártama, Alhaurín de la Torre and Malaga), running between the natural landscapes of Los Gaitanes gorge (home to the Caminito del Rey) and the nature reserve at the mouth of the Guadalhorce. "They will have to put a lot of effort into making it look beautiful," he said.

Another black spot

Unfortunately, this is not the only black spot for waste accumulation on the final stretch of the Guadalhorce. Another example, this time within Malaga city limits, is the tip found just above the old N-340, where the Arroyo de las Cañas joins the river. A eucalyptus forest hides it enough, but you only have to go a few metres down the path off the Azucarera-Intelhorce road located behind the sewage treatment plant to find dozens of dismantled and discarded household appliances, sacks of building rubble, tiles and furniture.

All that, despite people in Malaga having the option to leave unwanted furniture by their ordinary bins the day before the designated collection lorry comes by, according to the calendar displayed on the bins themselves and also found on the company's website.

Regarding the rubble, individuals can dispose of up to ten sacks for free both in the Guadalhorce recycling centre and at the refuse tip. For companies, the charge for each tonne of bulky waste has been 63.15 euros plus tax since 1 January, when the new state tax of 40 euros started being applied to the deposit of any waste that ends up in landfill.

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