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Current satellite view of La Viñuela reservoir. Google Earth
Recent rain has done little to improve water levels in Malaga province's reservoirs
Drought crisis

Recent rain has done little to improve water levels in Malaga province's reservoirs

La Viñuela in the Axarquía is only about eight per cent full and the lack of a local desalination plant to help out with supply is adding to the problem

Ignacio Lillo

Friday, 15 September 2023, 12:22

Opciones para compartir

The storm at the start of September left a respectable 50 to 90mm of rain in the higher parts of the Axarquía area of eastern Malaga province. But this has done little to fill up the severely depleted reservoirs.

We are now well into September, traditionally considered a wet month, and until this weekend, besides a few easterly showers on some parts of the coast, there has been no sign of the huge amount of rainfall needed. The reservoirs are getting emptier as each week goes by.

Reservoirs and precipitation observation

stations in the province

Embalse del

Guadalteba

Embalse del

Guadalhorce

Embalse de

La Viñuela

Embalse Conde

de Guadalhorce

Embalse del

Limonero

Embalse

de Casasola

Embalse de la Concepción

Reservoirs and precipitation observation

stations in the province

Embalse del

Guadalteba

Embalse del

Guadalhorce

Embalse de La Viñuela

Embalse Conde

de Guadalhorce

Embalse del Limonero

Embalse

de Casasola

Embalse de la Concepción

Reservoirs and precipitation observation stations in the province

Embalse del Guadalteba

Embalse del Guadalhorce

Embalse Conde de Guadalhorce

Embalse de La Viñuela

Embalse

de Casasola

Embalse del Limonero

Embalse de la Concepción

The one that is the worst hit is the Axarquía's La Viñuela - Malaga province's biggest. While the rain a couple of weeks ago did help fill it a little, this extra amount has already been used up. Last week, measurements showed it was only 8.27% full and it is getting harder to take out water due to the sludge at the bottom.

Scroll Story imagen 0

1982

Construction starts on the dam at La Viñuela, the works ending in 1989.

1997

The reservoir reaches its highest level: 168 cubic hectometres.

2013

Ten years ago the reservoir level was 146 hm3.

2018

And five years ago it had reduced by more than half of the 2013 figure: 62 hm3.

2023

The reservoir, this September, has no more than 13 cubic hectometres of water.

AUX STEP FOR JS

Change in water

levels in La Viñuela

160

140

120

100

80

60

40

20

1990

2000

2010

2020

Change in water

levels in La Viñuela

160

140

120

100

80

60

40

20

1990

2000

2010

2020

Change in water levels in La Viñuela

160

140

120

100

80

60

40

20

1990

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

2015

2020

At the other end of the Costa del Sol, there is a better outlook. In Marbella and the surrounding area, the triple combination of the water from La Concepción reservoir, the Marbella desalination plant and the pipeline bringing in water from Campo de Gibraltar is enough to guarantee supply to local people and businesses. La Concepción, behind Marbella, is at 41.57% of its capacity, so it still has enough water for several months.

In Malaga city and the Guadalhorce Valley there is also no risk of restrictions for the moment, thanks to the three large inland reservoirs that supply the area and the smaller flood defence reservoirs near the city. However, in the event that the coming months are dry again, the situation would become more difficult.

The key role of desalination plant

Just as the existing desalination plant in Marbella, turning seawater into drinking water, is being seen as a key part of supply on the western Costa del Sol, the lack of an equivalent plant on the eastern coast is being seen as a key part of the problem there. One has been promised but it is still a long-term solution.

For the moment, large parts of the Axarquía are seeing water cuts at night and some water-saving measures, such as shutting of beach showers, without affecting the end of the tourist season too much.

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