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Works begins to double the water pumping capacity from the Guadalhorce to the Costa del Sol. Ñito Salas
Improvement works under way to double water pumping capacity between Malaga and western strip of Costa del Sol
Drought crisis

Improvement works under way to double water pumping capacity between Malaga and western strip of Costa del Sol

The one-million-euro plan to boost the capacity of the Rojas station in Churriana will eventually allow up to 500 litres per second to be transported on the 'water highway'

Ignacio Lillo

Tuesday, 23 January 2024, 14:10

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As long as there is water somewhere along the Costa del Sol and in Malaga's Guadalhorce river, it will soon be possible to easily transport it to where it is most needed. This is the principal purpose of the Rojas pumping station improvement works, whose main objective is to increase the interconnection capacity between Malaga city and the western Costa del Sol, by implementing a new drive system. The works will cost just over a million euro and be completed within a maximum period of six months after, in early January, the Junta approved the proposal put forward by the companies Guadalsur and Padelsa.

This project will improve infrastructure built during the great drought of 1995, in order to facilitate the distribution of water resources in both directions. Currently, the situation is that the western Costa del Sol, with the La Concepción reservoir at just 22% of its capacity, needs a water transfer from Malaga city to the coast.

Malaga city in turn is mainly supplied by the Guadalhorce-Guadalteba system. One main purpose of the project here is to control river flood surges which can impact the city. For this, it is necessary to renovate the existing Rojas infrastructure at Churriana, which is almost 30 years old and its pumps are obsolete. The new planned pumping system, with five motors, will allow the transfer of up to 500 litres per second, more than double the current capacity.

A pressing element is to be able to transfer water from the north (passing through the city) to the east; but the plant will be prepared so that, when necessary, a reverse transfer can be made: from La Concepción and the desalination plant in Marbella, to Malaga, and from there, to the Axarquía.

The network will be regulated by a modern telematic system which will manage both networks, as explained by Álvaro Real, director of hydraulic infrastructures of the Junta de Andalucía, during the laying of a foundation stone at the pumping station. The event was attended by the regional minister of water, Carmen Crespo; and the councillor for environmental sustainability of Malaga city hall, Penelope Gómez, among other authorities.

'Water highway'

The 'water highway' project, with an increased transfer of up to 12 cubic hectometres of water per year, aims to provide supply guarantees to more than 600,000 people in Malaga. This action will directly impact Benahavís, Benalmádena, Casares, Estepona, Fuengirola, Manilva, Marbella, Mijas and Torremolinos, as well as Malaga city and, indirectly, the stricken Axarquía region.

Crespo said she regretted that this project had not been implemented in previous years. The regional minister of water said that this work is "a milestone for Malaga" because it "closes the circle" from the northern area of San Roque, in Cadiz, and the Campo de Gibraltar, to connect with the Axarquía. "This means that we will have the capacity to inject water into one area from another, and that, in this time of drought, is essential."

Drought Decree

Crespo said that the work in Cadiz will be ready in spring, and soon after that the Rojas station, which is already connected to the San Roque station, will be complete. The Junta’s fourth Drought Decree will involve investments valued at 200 million euros, a large part of which will go to Malaga province Crespo said, “because, unfortunately, it is at the epicentre; but also, fortunately, because these are infrastructures that will remain for future generations”. Crespo also called for government funding for pipe laying.

As for the Marbella desalination plant, run by the state, the capacity increase, to 12 hectometres, is nearing completion. But the new Decree foresees an increase to 20 hectometres which, Crespo said, “is an urgent need for this summer”. Crespo also called for funding for the missing eight hectometres from the government, or for the central administration to carry out the necessary works.

Portable desalination plants

The regional minister of water said that the rest of the planned measures will be focused on the reactivation of disused wells, along with the installation of portable desalination plants to achieve an annual increase of up to 70 hectometres.

Speaking at the laying of the foundation stone, the councillor for environmental sustainability of Malaga city hall, Penelope Gómez, said that “it is time to work together” with the Junta “and work fast”. “Before us we have the best example, because with this pumping station, the Junta is counting on the help of Malaga city and the municipalities of the Costa del Sol, without doubts and without conflicts”.

“This teamwork is what we need from society as a whole, because we are in an emergency situation.”

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