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Image taken a few weeks ago at the La Concepción reservoir, near Marbella. Josele
This is the current state of all the reservoirs in Malaga province as summer approaches
Drought crisis

This is the current state of all the reservoirs in Malaga province as summer approaches

Water is guaranteed for the busiest and driest season of the year although use for irrigation and the increase in tourism as well as evaporation are already being felt

Chus Heredia

Malaga

Friday, 14 June 2024, 12:44

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Malaga province's reservoirs are beginning to feel the effects of irrigation, an increase in tourism and evaporation as the temperatures rise, despite the increase in levels thanks to storms Monica and Nelson in March. The two periods of heavy rainfall raised the reserves from a meagre 97 cubic hectometres at the beginning of the year to more than 170 in the middle of the year.

Thanks to this abundant and well-distributed rainfall, water is guaranteed across the province as summer gets going, with the aforementioned measures of 225 litres per inhabitant per day on the Costa del Sol and 200 in Malaga and the Axarquía. A small amount of emergency watering in gardens, showers on adapted beaches for people with reduced mobility and filling of swimming pools are all permitted this summer.

But how have surface reserves evolved this month? Although consumption is still very restricted, with drastic drops in pressure and nighttime cuts in many municipalities, the number of arrivals at Malaga Airport continues to soar.

This obviously means greater pressure on resources, as does the natural phenomenon of evaporation, which logically increases at this time of year. The next factor to take into account is the release of water from the reservoirs for farmers in the Guadalhorce valley, which began on Wednesday 12 June.

170.92 cubic hectometres reached

From 170.92 hm3 on 13 May, the water level has fallen to 160 hm3 and the weekly decrease is accelerating as summer approaches: it is already around 3 hm3 less per week. This time last year there were 195 hm3 stored.

Surface water reserves are at a meagre 26 per cent and the western Costa del Sol, Malaga city and the Axarquía show very different realities. This means that the Costa will probably leave the summer in a situation of moderate drought (not even severe) and Malaga will return to severe drought. The Axarquía is still the area in the most critical situation, although the transfer of 270 litres per second from Malaga has been suspended thanks to the reserves in La Viñuela following March's downpours.

La Viñuela has begun to receive recycled water from the Peñón del Cuervo treatment plant for farmers and growers with land on the right bank of the River Guaro, as part of the Guaro Plan, and only 3 hm3 from the La Viñuela reservoir will be used for relief. The goal of the authorities is to reach autumn with 22 hm3 in the reservoir, which will guarantee drinking water for a year.

Costa del Sol

A month ago, La Concepción reservoir on the western strip of the Costa del Sol had 43.11 hectometres. At seven o'clock on Thursday 13 June it measured 41.18. It is better than last year and this year it will also have the reinforcement of 1 hm3 per month from the modernised Marbella desalination plant. But no one can relax: summer on the Costa del Sol means that demand can be up to 3,500 litres per second.

Axarquia

La Viñuela reservoir was at 31.56 hm3 a month ago. On Thursday 13 June it was at 30.63. Despite the serious situation, it is double last year's levels and for the moment the surface pumps installed before the rains came to extract the last usable water remain are not required.

Malaga and Guadalhorce

In the reservoirs that supply Malaga city and the few irrigation reservoirs of the Guadalhorce, the drop is more marked. Thus, Guadalteba stored 37.61 hm3 in May compared to 34.32 hm3 now. The Guadalhorce, which stored 23.21 hm3, is down to 21.82. And the Conde de Guadalhorce has gone down to 22.25 from 23.45 cubic hectometres. Only the Conde is slightly better than last year. The other two are at about half the levels they were this time last year.

Casasola and Limonero, which are used as strategic reserves, stored 6.01 and 4.38 cubic hectometres respectively on Thursday afternoon.

The aforementioned problem of evaporation causes the reservoirs to lose almost 30 hm3 in a year and is more pronounced in the Guadalhorce system.

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