La Viñuela reservoir last month. / E.C.

The end of abundance

Setting political posturing aside, action must be taken to reduce the excessive water consumption in the Axarquía

JENNIE RHODES

French president Emmanuel Macron warned of "the end of abundance" in a speech he gave in the Élysée Palace in August and said that it was so for "land and materials including water".

His message seems to have reached the subtropical fruit growers in the Axarquía, who have seen their supply for irrigation from La Viñuela reservoir gradually reduced, until it was cut off completely on 1 October. However, it would seem that town halls in the same area didn't get the memo.

Subtropical fruits should never have been introduced into the dry Mediterranean climate of the Axarquía, but they were seen as a way of generating wealth in a historically poor region of Spain and they have done just that for many.

Anyway, who doesn't enjoy the mango and avocado seasons? I for one do very well out of it and never turn down the offer of free produce from my generous neighbours who own some of the land that can no longer be irrigated. I confess that mangoes and avocados have become somewhat of a guilty pleasure.

The growers have a point though when they argue that while they no longer have access to the reservoir, the 14 towns and villages that also receive their water from the same source have not been subject to the same restrictions.

Meanwhile wells dry up, the water tankers start to roll in and all eyes are on the remaining 10 per cent of water in La Viñuela. It emerged last week that each of the 160,000 inhabitants in the area should have been restricted to 200 litres per day since June 2021.

Yet swimming pools have been filled, houses jet washed every time we get a bit of calima and data has been published saying that on average each person actually uses 336 litres every day.

Comares town hall has started fining residents who have exceeded their quota and the rest should do likewise. But apparently the town halls need, in writing, information from the Junta de Andalucía as to how to save water. They've been asked by the regional administration to reduce consumption by 20 per cent and apart from the Comares fines, the only other thing that they've come up with so far is to turn off the beach showers in some coastal towns, which they did in July.

The largely Socialist-PSOE-led Axarquía town halls are blaming the conservative Partido Popular regional government for not spelling out how to save water. I don't think it's rocket science and if it is that difficult, then why not fit all households with metres and fine the culprits? It's too late for political posturing. As President Macron said, we need to see the "end of abundance" and everyone must read the memo.