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Conde de Guadalhorce reservoir during the rains in March Salvador Salas
Malaga's reservoir levels start to go down after two months of positive figures
Drought crisis

Malaga's reservoir levels start to go down after two months of positive figures

But there is one dam on the Costa del Sol that has been holding its own and for the first time in history, is the one that stores the most water in the province

Chus Heredia

Malaga

Tuesday, 14 May 2024, 18:22

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After two weeks of rising levels - more than guaranteeing the province's water supply for the summer - reservoirs in Malaga province are starting to head back in the opposite direction again. Since last weekend, the province's reservoir levels have started to drop, since the runoff left by storms Monica and Nelson in March introduced less water into the dams than they lost through evaporation and supply.

Malaga's reservoirs registered 170.92 cubic hectometres at the end of last week, which showed a positive balance of 73 cubic hectometres (equivalent to the annual consumption of Malaga city and Axarquía), but this Monday confirmed the trend that started several days ago, and stood at 169.78 hm3 at the 6pm update.

Surface water reserves are at a poor 27.77% and, furthermore, the Western Costa del Sol, Malaga city and Axarquía show very different realities. What is indisputable is that at this time last year they stored 35hm3 more.

La Concepcion, stuck at 43.11hm3 for more than seven days

The biggest relief is for the western Costa del Sol. Its reservoir, La Concepción, has a more than curious statistic: for a whole week it has been stuck at 43.11 cubic hectometres. This means the water that enters the reservoir is exactly balanced with that which it supplies or loses. This once again confirms the response capacity of this reservoir, which is very well designed as it receives the inflows from the Verde and the triple system of tunnels and mini-dams of the Guadaiza, Guadalmina and Guadalmansa. But its 57.54hm3, according to the latest bathymetry or background study, are insufficient to provide more than eight months of respite to a coast with very high demands (up to 3,500 litres per second) in summer.

However, the resistance of the reservoir located between Marbella and Istán will only last a few more hours before it joins the downward trend and begins its summer volume loss. In any case, the reservoir's condition allows it to have the highest water supply in the province (225 litres per inhabitant per day as of the next drought committee) and to climb out of the drought crisis status. Not only has it gone from crisis to severe, but also to moderate. The reservoir has recorded better rainfall than last year. In these months of the water year, 411mm was measured (330 in 2023).

This year, for the first time in history, the reservoir is the one that stores the most water in Malaga province. It had always been ahead of La Viñuela or the Guadalteba at best.

La Axarquía faces a better summer

The best effects of the recent rainfall in the Axarquía region can be seen in the 310mm collected at La Viñuela (it was 176mm last year). The reservoir is at 31.56hm3 (15.98 last spring) but already slightly down on a week ago. All in all, the eastern Costa district is facing the summer with much greater guarantees than last year, but it does not appear to be outside the serious level.

Malaga city, worse than in 2023

Malaga city, due to the improvement of the reservoirs of the Guadalhorce-Limonero system, is no longer at a crisis level and is now in a severe situation. However, it is taken for granted that, if no new rains occur, which is unlikely at this stage and in view of the forecasts, the city will return to red level in October. All the reservoirs are losing water compared to last week and only the Conde de Guadalhorce, which had reached an all-time low in autumn, is now more recovered.

Guadalteba stored 37.61 hm3 at 6pm on Monday afternoon (last week it exceeded 38 and in 2023 it stored almost twice as much water). It has collected 220mm of rainfall in this hydrological year, 82 more than last year.

The Guadalhorce stores only 23.21hm3 (0.4 less than last week and, again, practically half that of last year).

The Conde de Guadalhorce holds 23.45 cubic hectometres (0.06 less than seven days ago but six more than last year). The rainfall measured in the oldest reservoir for Malaga's supply (1923) is 149.80mm, slightly better than a year ago.

The sum of the three headwater reservoirs is around 85hm3 (130 a year ago), when the red zone limit is 71.4. At this point, it should be noted that Casasola (6.24hm3) and El Limonero (4.61) are considered strategic reserves. They are hardly used to supply water to the city, as they are for flood abatement. Last year both exceeded seven hm3.

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