Guadalhorce reservoir (archive photo). SUR
Junta starts more emergency works to deal with drought concerns in Malaga province

Junta starts more emergency works to deal with drought concerns in Malaga province

Drought ·

The most critical situation remains at the La Viñuela reservoir in the Axarquía which is at 10% just of its capacity

Eugenio Cabezas

Friday, 21 April 2023, 17:31

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After a winter and early spring with hardly any rainfall, the threat of drought in Malaga province is becoming increasingly apparent. The Junta, as the competent authority for water issues in the Andalusian Mediterranean basin, plans to approve a third drought decree next week, with new emergency works and aid for the most affected sector – agriculture.

One of the actions to be implemented, which was already foreseen in the first decree but which has not yet been carried out, is the commissioning of two new wells in the Guadalhorce valley, Fahala and Aljaima, which could provide between 200 and 400 litres per second for water supply. The work has a budget of 5,745,600 euros and has been awarded to the public company Tragsa, with a projected completion period of ten months.

The measure was announced on Thursday at the meeting of the commission for the management of the drought in the Demarcation of the Mediterranean Basins of Andalucía. At the meeting, which was attended by representatives of the supply management companies, local councils and irrigators, the delicate situation of water reserves in the province was discussed; there are just 217.5 cubic hectometres stored in the seven reservoirs, at 35.5% of their capacity, a year ago they had 320 cubic hectometres.

Critical situation at the La Viñuela reservoir

The most critical situation remains at the La Viñuela reservoir, which is at 10% of its capacity, with 16.5 hectometres. The dire situation there means a continuation of the total restriction on irrigation for 6,300 hectares of agricultural lands as agreed last October under the Guaro Plan. The area is receiving water contributions from Malaga city and from the Chíllar river, in Nerja, to ensure the supply of around 220,000 inhabitants in 14 municipalities. The Junta de Andalucía recently decided to reduce the volume of water transferred from the Chíllar to La Viñuela reservoir due to "signs of depletion".

If no rainfall boosts the reserves in the reservoir it is expected that this situation would seriously compromise the supply of a large part of the eastern region, especially Vélez-Málaga and Torre del Mar. The Junta has once again asked the towns to reduce consumption to below 200 litres per inhabitant per day.

Guadalhorce reservoirs about to enter a situation of severe shortage

The Junta has also agreed to reduce the supply to Malaga city by 5% from the Guadalhorce reservoirs, which are about to enter a situation of severe shortage, below 140 cubic hectometres. This reduction will be compensated by other alternative resources, such as the Aljaima dam and the Casasola and El Limonero reservoirs. The regional administration has insisted that the supply to the population of the Costa del Sol is guaranteed for the coming months.

Farmers in the Guadalhorce area will see their water supply from the reservoirs reduced by 25% for the remainder of the water year, as SUR previously reported.

A representative from Ecologists in Action, Librada Moreno, called for an end to the increase in irrigated land in Malaga province and said that water transfers and other measures must "not serve to increase the water supply". She also called for the ecological flows of the rivers to be maintained. "The situation is critical, we have to adapt everything, it is climate change and we are late," she said.

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