La Viñuela, which supplies water to 200,000 people in the Axarquía, at an all-time low. SUR
Malaga province closes hydrological year with red and amber level drought alerts in place
Drought crisis

Malaga province closes hydrological year with red and amber level drought alerts in place

Two reservoirs have recorded historic lows while many others have not recorded even half their historical average rainfall

Chus Heredia


Wednesday, 4 October 2023, 16:27

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The hydrological year, a period of twelve months commencing 1 October of any given year and ending 30 September of the following year, has just closed and the official report from the Junta de Andalucía could not be more disheartening in Malaga province.

Two reservoirs, La Viñuela and Conde de Guadalhorce, are at their historic lowest levels and the drought alert level is red (serious drought) on the Costa del Sol, in the Guadalhorce valley and on the Axarquía coast and amber (severe drought) in the rest of the province.

The data comes from the annual report of the Hidrosur Network, which draws on records from the Regional Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, which is responsible for recording the levels of the reservoirs and rivers and for processing the data from the different measuring stations.

As far as temperatures are concerned, the year has not ended with any record highs, although the average temperature curves are higher than those of the last decade. Nor is there any record in terms of rainfall.

The worrying thing is that La Viñuela reservoir, which provides drinking water for a population of 200,000 people in the Axarquía, has barely 8% of its capacity (13.1 hectometres). As a result, the eastern region will have to continue to depend on water transfers from Malaga city thanks to an agreement between the supply companies Emasa and Axaragua. In the medium term, the only major work aimed at alleviating the drought is that of the treatment plants of Peñón del Cuervo and Rincón de la Victoria to increase the amount of recycled water for irrigation and cleaning. In this respect, they will provide some nine cubic hectometres per year. In the long term, it will be necessary to rely on other improvements and, crucially, a planned desalination plant.

In the Guadalhorce valley, the Conde reservoir has only 11.5 hectometres, 17% of its capacity. As a whole the reservoirs in the province have 128 cubic hectometers stored, which represents 21% of their capacity. This is practically half of what they had at this time last year.

Rainfall records

Rainfall records are well below average. In some cases, the volume of water collected was less than half of the normal amount. This is the case of El Torcal, which recorded 275mm, when its average is 571mm; El Atabal, with 221mm (444mm); Palacio de la Tinta, 194mm (451mm); Laguna de Fuente de Piedra, 196mm (405mm); the aforementioned Conde del Guadalhorce, 195mm (440mm); Casarabonela, 275mm (615mm), and Bobadilla, 157mm (357mm).

The wettest places in the province were Majada de las Lomas, in Cortes de la Frontera (640mm); Ojén (601mm); Pujerra (600mm), and Jubrique (599mm).

Major works that have been studied may still come to fruition. These include the enlargement of La Concepción reservoir; the improvement of the Costa del Sol-Malaga connections to be able to transfer water from the rainiest area of the province to Malaga city and the Axarquía; a Rio Grande weir or dam, and the purification of the saline discharges from the Guadalhorce reservoir.

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