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2023 - high and dry
Opinion

2023 - high and dry

We were all taught in biology that every living thing needs water and light to survive. Here, on the Costa del Sol, we have plenty of light to go round, but water, essential for residents, tourists, migrants, gardens, industry, crops, livestock, wildlife, forests... is in short supply

Friday, 29 December 2023, 14:50

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Just this week we have learned that this has been the driest year since the 19th century (see page 12) and the reservoir levels have gradually been breaking their own 'lowest ever' records as the months have gone by. At the same time the 'highest ever' temperatures have hit us full in the face (literally in the case of the 'terral' wind).

This, however, has guaranteed a fine supply of what is most in demand among thousands of residents in the UK and other cooler countries: a holiday in a hot and sunny country.

But too high and too dry could also answer one of the tourism industry's demands in recent years: more year-round tourism. British holidaymakers at least have decided that a visit to the Costa del Sol in May or October is far more pleasant than pushing through the sweaty August crowds. The industry, and the busy airport and the even busier public transport system and the packed terraces could all deal better with higher-than-ever visitor numbers if these were spread out over the year.

Municipal tourism and water management are in fresh hands in many towns this year after the local elections in May.

Few of the larger towns in Malaga province changed hands completely (Benalmádena, and later Mijas being the biggest examples of a move from left to right), but council reshuffles have put new names in different departments. They have had the difficult task of meeting requirements to reduce water demand by 20% without upsetting too many people.

Regionally, with greater jurisdiction in terms of water management, the Junta de Andalucía - which did not have elections this year - has seen much attention turned to Doñana. There, the regional government earned itself a bad name Europe-wide in its attempt to balance a need to save a thirsty national park and unique ecosystem with the need to save the livelihoods of families who grow even thirstier strawberry plants alongside that same national park.

A rare agreement, especially in this year of controversial government pacts with nationalist groups, between the Socialist-led national government and the PP-run Andalusian authority, solved the Doñana affair, leaving the Junta to focus on promises of desalination plants.

We were all taught in biology that every living thing needs water and light to survive. Here, we have plenty of light to go round, but water, essential for residents, tourists, migrants, gardens, industry, crops, livestock, wildlife, forests... is in short supply. No political differences should interfere in efforts to solve this problem, or the winning formula of 'hot and sunny' could end up leaving us literally high and dry.

This edition of SUR in English takes a look at the past year. Now we can move forward to next year, in the hope that in the review of 2024, the words "severe drought" will not make an appearance.

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