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Water supply companies in agreement with Junta regarding filling private swimming pools and emergency irrigation this summer
Drought crisis

Water supply companies in agreement with Junta regarding filling private swimming pools and emergency irrigation this summer

Emasa (Malaga), Axaragua (Axarquía), Acosol (western Costa del Sol) and Arcgisa (Campo de Gibraltar) representatives have met with regional government officials in Andalucía to discuss the drought crisis situation

Chus Heredia / Héctor Barbotta

Malaga / Seville

Wednesday, 8 May 2024, 10:28

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Water companies along the Costa del Sol have agreed with the Junta to fill private swimming pools and water gardens, so long as each individual municipality is maintaining set limits.

It will be up to the respective town halls to ask the Junta for these exceptions, with the regional government only approving them if the municipality can provide the numbers and guarantee that requested pools can be filled and gardens irrigated, while conforming to the 200-litre per inhabitant per day restriction.

Representatives of the water supply companies Emasa (Malaga), Acosol (western Costa del Sol), Axaragua (Axarquía) and Arcgisa (Campo de Gibraltar) met with secretary general of the regional ministry of agriculture Ramiro Angulo confirmed the latest development on Tuesday 7 May.

After the meeting, Ramón Fernández-Pacheco, spokesperson for the Andalusian government and minister of sustainability said the Junta was not going to put obstacles in the way of this decision to be taken by the local town halls. The councillor has taken over the water portfolio after the departure of Carmen Crespo.

Next drought committee meeting

The next drought committee for the Mediterranean basins area is scheduled for 15 May. Therefore, the permission to use treated water will be extended to private and community swimming pools (if authorised by the local town hall), in addition to those already exempted at sports facilities, educational, health, hotels, campsites and for public use.

Watering gardens will also be allowed with up to 400 cubic metres of water per hectare per month. Work will also be done to make agricultural irrigation more flexible, which is now limited to six cubic hectometres per year in the Guadalhorce-Limonero system and prohibited with reservoir water in the Axarquia.

Drinking fountains

The companies have also agreed water will be made available to the drinking fountains but not have not specified anything about showers and footbaths on beaches, although the weather is favourable for them to be activated this summer.

These measures come as the reservoirs of Malaga exceed 170 cubic hectometres, which is 73 more than they had stored before 8 March following two storms that passed through the province that month. However, the Junta, in a note sent out yesterday, reminded the drought situation has not passed.

Each municipality will need to make sure its residents are not consuming more than the limit of 200 litres per day, which will be measured at the head of each urban supply and controlled by the Junta.

Swimming pools in Malaga

There are 79,124 swimming pools in Malaga province, some 78,606 outdoor and 518 indoor, but the statistics do not distinguish between public and private pools, nor how many are communal. It is known that throughout the province there are 910 registered hotels, including hostels, guesthouses, and hotel-apartments, 40% of which are between three and five stars. Rural houses for tourist use and campsites also tend to have swimming pools and there are 5,867 in Malaga province, according to data from the Junta.

The municipality with the most swimming pools is Marbella: 10,744. It is followed by Mijas (8,231), Malaga (6,033) and Alhaurín de la Torre (4,976). However, Arenas is the town with the highest number per inhabitant: one swimming pool for every 2.7 citizens. Most of them are located in country houses scattered inland.

Amid thousands of waiting pool owners and the uncertainty about whether or not they will be filled this summer, the Colegio de Administradores de Fincas has repeatedly called for clarity. Last summer, for example, there were conflicts in Axarquia between urbanisations and even within the same community over pool usage, with some matters ending in court.

A whole sector on tenterhooks

Service companies have been on tenterhooks as thousands of contracts for maintenance, lifeguards, garden irrigation, training courses, or reservations in tourist flats are up in the air. Some of these employers have formed a platform and have already protested in the streets of Malaga on two occasions.

Groups such as tourist flat owners even put a figure on how much they would lose if swimming pools were to remain shut this summer. A few days ago following a meeting with the Junta to address the issue, the Andalusian Association of Tourist Apartment and Housing Professionals (AVVAPro) put the negative economic impact of the ban on filling private swimming pools at 4,834 million euros this summer.

Malaga city

The first local council to make a statement was Malaga city council, which announced it was going to request the Junta to adopt the aforementioned measures on an exceptional basis. Councillor of sustainability, Penélope Gómez, who participated in the meeting, pointed out the importance of the common measures and said Malaga will continue to apply formulas such as lowering the pressure by 50%, which will be completed throughout the city in the coming weeks, and the search for more resources from Fahala and Aljaima and the commissioning of the old brackish wells of the Bajo Guadalhorce.

Meanwhile, Marbella mayor Ángeles Muñoz congratulated the decision on social media over the latest swimming pool measure and also pointed out the unity of action within the Western Mancomunidad and Acosol.

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