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Filling and refilling pools has been one of the most controversial issues during the drought. SUR
Filling of swimming pools this summer to be decided by local town halls across Malaga province
Drought crisis

Filling of swimming pools this summer to be decided by local town halls across Malaga province

The Junta de Andalucía's drought committee will review its consumption limits after the Easter rains, which have already left an extra 55 hm3 in the province, and then allow municipalities to determine what measures to introduce to meet them

Chus Heredia

Malaga

Wednesday, 3 April 2024, 14:54

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The decision about whether to allow the filling or topping up of swimming pools this summer will be decided by local councils at a municipal level following the Easter rains which have allowed some Malaga province's reservoirs to climb out of crisis level. The town halls will be allowed some flexibility to decide the measures to take regarding swimming pools, as long as they comply with maximum consumption guidelines set by the Junta de Andalucía's drought management committee..

While it's good news for residents, it revives a previous issue raised by the Malaga and Melilla Association of Property Administrators (CAF), which called for clearer rules when it came to filling swimming pools. The organisation wants them in order to have legal certainty in decision-making among residential communities, and to avoid the conflict of last summer, especially in the Axarquia region, where there were different regulations and allegedly some residents vandalised other people's pools. CAF also wants clear answers so people who are contracted to maintain pools have job certainty over the summer period. One association representing gardeners and handymen protested several days ago when the Junta's drought committee decided to exempt public, municipal, sports club, campsite and hotel swimming pools from the water restrictions for the summer.

Flexibility

"It will depend on the capacity of the municipalities to reach 180, 200 or 225 litres per inhabitant per day, whatever the drought committee decides. We always want to make the restriction measures more flexible, depending on the water capacity we have. Therefore, if they can be made more flexible, we are going to try to do so, always, but it will depend on the capacity of each municipality to make these water savings," the region's minister of agriculture Carmen Crespo told SUR.

"It is the drought committee that establishes general formulas and we are going to see how the run-off evolves over the next few days. My opinion, while waiting for this data, is that some of these measures can be made more flexible," she added.

Consumption limits are set by drought committees and each municipality or water company then complies with them by taking whatever measures they deem appropriate. In practice, the 11 municipalities of the Costa del Sol and the municipality of Malaga coincide in their banning the use of potable water for filling swimming pools; garden and golf course irrigation; car washing; drinking fountains; showers; and foot baths.

Maximum consumption limits

At the moment, the whole province is at a serious level of drought, with 160 litres per inhabitant per day of maximum consumption set. The limits may be varied to 180, 200 or 225 litres depending on the reserves in the reservoirs. The Guadalhorce-Limonero system serving Malaga city had 85.36 cubic hectometres as of Tuesday 2 April. That is 14 cubic hectometres above the crisis level. The drought committee could relax some measures.

This could also happen, but is less likely due to the demands that will arise in summer along the Costa del Sol. La Concepción reservoir, in Marbella, exceeds 34 cubic hectometres, with its crisis limit set at 31.4.

In the Axarquía, the La Viñuela reservoir is on its way to 28 cubic hectometres and has doubled its reserves. But it is still at 16.70% capacity and far from the 41.54 hm3 it has been allocated to climb out of the crisis level.

As of Tuesday 2 April, Malaga province's seven reservoirs reached a total of 152 cubic hectometres. Before the storms Monica and Nelson (8 March), they barely stored 97. The end of the drought is a long way off, but the latest downpours of rain have given the province a respite to face the summer with some guarantee of supply.

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