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Weekend visitors look at the water in the Conde de Guadalhorce reservoir. Ñito Salas
Malaga and Costa del Sol likely to be spared from additional water restrictions following Easter week downpours
Drought crisis

Malaga and Costa del Sol likely to be spared from additional water restrictions following Easter week downpours

The reservoir system serving the city already has sufficient reserves to climb out of the 'crisis' drought level, and the main reservoir that serves the Costa del Sol is close but pending rain run-off from the mountains

Ignacio Lillo

Malaga

Monday, 1 April 2024, 11:40

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The downpours of rain in Malaga during Easter week have probably spared the province from additional water restrictions during the summer.

More than 65mm was collected yesterday (Sunday 31 March) in the Sierra de Mijas, which supplies several municipalities on the Costa del Sol and inland. Malaga city now has more than guaranteed water supply for the summer months due to the rising levels of the Guadalhorce reservoir system, and the western Costa del Sol should be safe from more measures after a decent amount of rain fell into the La Concepción reservoir, near Marbella.

Meanwhile, in La Axarquía, although La Viñuela reservoir is also improving its levels, it is still not enough and will continue to be subject to strict control of water consumption.

Situación de los embalses

de Málaga

A 6 de enero de 2024

La Concepción

Casasola

45,6% de su

capacidad

26,5% de su

capacidad

Volumen actual:

26,2 hm3

Volumen actual:

5,8 hm3

Capacidad total:

21,7 hm3

Capacidad total:

57,5 hm3

El Limonero

Guadalteba

19,2% de su

capacidad

21,5% de su

capacidad

Volumen actual:

4,3 hm3

Volumen actual:

33 hm3

Capacidad total:

22,3 hm3

Capacidad total:

153,3 hm3

Conde de Guadalhorce

Guadalhorce

15% de su

capacidad

26,8% de su

capacidad

Volumen actual:

18,9 hm3

Volumen actual:

17,8 hm3

Capacidad total:

66,5 hm3

Capacidad total:

125,7 hm3

Todos los

embalses

La Viñuela

20,7% de la

capacidad total

12,5% de su

capacidad

Volumen actual

total:

126,6 hm3

Volumen actual:

26,6 hm3

Capacidad total:

611,5 hm3

Capacidad total:

164,4 hm3

Fuente: Hidrosur

A.M.C. / E.H.

Situación de los embalses de Málaga

A 30 de marzo de 2024

La Concepción

Casasola

45,6% de su

capacidad

26,5% de su

capacidad

Volumen actual:

26,2 hm3

Volumen actual:

5,8 hm3

Capacidad total:

21,7 hm3

Capacidad total:

57,5 hm3

El Limonero

Guadalteba

19,2% de su

capacidad

21,5% de su

capacidad

Volumen actual:

4,3 hm3

Volumen actual:

33 hm3

Capacidad total:

22,3 hm3

Capacidad total:

153,3 hm3

Conde de Guadalhorce

Guadalhorce

15% de su

capacidad

26,8% de su

capacidad

Volumen actual:

18,9 hm3

Volumen actual:

17,8 hm3

Capacidad total:

66,5 hm3

Capacidad total:

125,7 hm3

Todos los

embalses

La Viñuela

20,7% de la

capacidad total

12,5% de su

capacidad

Volumen actual

total:

126,6 hm3

Volumen actual:

26,6 hm3

Capacidad total:

611,5 hm3

Capacidad total:

164,4 hm3

Fuente: Hidrosur

A.M.C. / E.H.

Situación de los embalses de Málaga

A 30 de marzo de 2024

La Concepción

Casasola

El Limonero

45,6% de su

capacidad

26,5% de su

capacidad

19,2% de su

capacidad

Volumen actual:

26,2 hm3

Volumen actual:

5,8 hm3

Volumen actual:

4,3 hm3

Capacidad total:

21,7 hm3

Capacidad total:

22,3 hm3

Capacidad total:

57,5 hm3

Guadalteba

Guadalhorce

Conde de Guadalhorce

21,5% de su

capacidad

15% de su

capacidad

26,8% de su

capacidad

Volumen actual:

33 hm3

Volumen actual:

18,9 hm3

Volumen actual:

17,8 hm3

Capacidad total:

66,5 hm3

Capacidad total:

153,3 hm3

Capacidad total:

125,7 hm3

La Viñuela

Todos los embalses

12,5% de su

capacidad

20,7% de la

capacidad total

Volumen actual

total:

126,6 hm3

Volumen actual:

26,6 hm3

Capacidad total:

611,5 hm3

Capacidad total:

164,4 hm3

Fuente: Hidrosur

A.M.C. / E.H.

Situation in Malaga city

Pending what the Junta de Andalucía will determine at a forthcoming meeting of its drought committee, scheduled for this month, some hopeful conclusions can already be drawn. Right now, the whole province is classified as being in the "crisis drought" level, which is the worst threshold (the other two are "moderate" and "severe"). This is stipulated in the 2021 drought plan.

Related news

In the case of Malaga city, the levels available in four reservoirs are taken into account to determine its drought status: the three in the Guadalhorce system (Guadalhorce, Conde and Guadalteba), and Casasola. These reservoirs collected around 50mm in the period from 23-30 March, according to the Junta.

Aerial view of the reservoirs that make up the Guadalhorce system
Aerial view of the reservoirs that make up the Guadalhorce system Ñito Salas

The Junta's Hidrosur network, which is an essential tool for real-time knowledge of rainfall in key regional locations, revealed the Guadalteba and Conde de Guadalhorce reservoirs collected around 50mm in the period 23-30 March.

With these levels, 75.5 cubic hectometres have already been reached (probably exceeded, due to last night's runoff). Given the threshold set by the Junta in this case is 71.4 hm3, Malaga city will be out of the red level if it is able to maintain that level for the next 30 days.

The increase has been clear, as on Palm Sunday, the four reservoirs together accounted for 72.5 hm3. There is enough water for a year and a half, given that Emasa's supply is around 1,500 litres per second, equivalent to 47 hm3 per year, or 4 hm3 per month on average. Although it must be considered Malaga provides 270 litres per second to the Axarquia (currently its main source of supply).

Wells

To deal with water scarcity, Malaga city has a fundamental weapon: the Aljaima or Barullo overflow reservoir, in Cártama, and its annexed wells in Fahala, which is managed by Emasa and which, at times of flooding of the Grande river such as currently, can supply up to 100% of the city's consumption.

This has been the case again at the end of March, when the small reservoir is at 100% of its capacity, which is 1,600 litres per second for households in Malaga city, and with peaks of almost 1,800 - according to Emasa data.

This puts less pressure on supply from the reservoirs, with the new wells in Aljaima and Fahala, expected to supply households with up to 400 litres per second, being operational from this month.

La Viñuela exceeds for the first time the level of a year ago

Some moderately good news is starting to come from the Axarquía area regarding the critical drought situation affecting the eastern parts of Malaga province. And the headline is that, for the first time, the La Viñuela reservoir already has more accumulated water than just a year ago. In fact, it is the only reservoir in the province that can boast this milestone.

Specifically, it has reached 21 cubic hectometres for the first time in more than twelve months (at the time of going to press, probably more thanks to the early morning run-off). This is 4 hm2 more than at that time, and with that, it is at 12% of its capacity. Moreover, it is one of those that is capturing the most water during this latest episode, thanks to rainfall of 80mm between 23 and 30 March.

However, no matter how much the run-offs may contribute in the coming days, the level is still far from what would be optimal for Vélez-Málaga and its surroundings to stop being supplied from the Guadalhorce system (via Malaga city) and recover normality of supply, which is now subject to severe cuts at night.

"Although we will have to wait a few days for the run-off to see how the reserves have increased, it is undeniable that they are giving a respite from the situation of severe shortages," said Malaga city's environmental councillor Penélope Gómez.

"This improvement is also possible thanks to infrastructures that we have promoted from the city council such as the Aljaima weir, the battery of wells and the Pilones reservoir, which since Thursday made it possible that we do not have to be taking water from the reservoirs to supply the city."

"It is good to remember that if we had other pending infrastructures such as the Cerro Blanco reservoir, we could make even more use of the water coming from the river Grande, as even with the Aljaima weir at its maximum, there is still a large volume that now ends up in the Guadalhorce and from there, in the sea," warned the councillor.

Western Costa del Sol

In the case of the western Costa del Sol, everything is currently depending on the balance between consumption, which until yesterday was high due to the arrival of tourists for Easter (although less than expected, because of the weather forecast); and how fruitful the run-offs are, which will continue at least during the first week of April.

Yesterday, La Concepción reservoir in Marbella collected 85mm, according to data from the Junta's Hidrosur network. But the rainfall was more abundant in surrounding areas, such as Ojén (118mm) and Los Reales de Sierra Bermeja (93mm).

Until 31 March, the reservoir had a total of 27 cubic hectometres (46% of its capacity). This is five more than on Good Friday, and ten more since storm Monica at the start of March.

All eyes are now on final deposits of rainfall from Saturday night and Sunday; and the run-off. To emerge from the red drought status, La Concepción would have to gain just over six cubic hectometres in the next few days and maintain those levels throughout the month of April.

The first phase of the expansion of the Marbella desalination plant is expected to help, which is being undertaken by the Junta de Andalucía and which this summer will for the first time provide up to one cubic hectometre per month. There are also additional sources from the Guadalmansa and Fuengirola wells, among other measures.

In this new scenario, the Junta intends to re-evaluate its restrictions in Malaga province in mid-April, once the rain has stopped and most of the reservoirs have collected the run-off.

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