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Tourism up, water down

Millions head to the Costa's beaches practically all year round. Ironically, it is the key to the Costa's success - its dry climate - that is in danger of ruining it, when 'dry' turns to 'drought'

Friday, 1 December 2023, 17:05

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Over the last few weeks or even months, this newspaper has carried a string of reports on two of the most important issues of this year, both of them record-breaking.

First, as always, comes tourism. Living where we do, we have to have one eye continually on the area's most important industry which has not stopped breaking records this year. Malaga Airport has hit the 20-million-passengers-in-a-year milestone, still in November. And Andalucía is set to receive 33 million tourists by the end of 2023. Other industry-related figures are showing the same 'best ever' results. Now tourism in the south of Spain has not just caught up with the famous pre-pandemic year of 2019 - it has beaten it with bells on.

Tourists on the beach this summer.
Tourists on the beach this summer. SUR

However, among the pages and pages of soaring figures, we have other pages of plummeting figures. No one wants to be a party pooper, but turn the page after the tourism highs and we find the all-time lows. La Viñuela reservoir is less than eight per cent full, its lowest level ever, another record-breaker. The rest of the reservoirs in the region are following suit. This has been one of the hottest summers on record and, save an unlikely downpour after this edition goes to press, this looks set to be the first November with zero rainfall in Malaga city.

The arrows on the graphs are quite merrily going in opposite directions, conveniently separated on different pages. More, and more on one side - less and less overleaf. But at some point we have to be brave and put them together and find a solution.

Here on the Costa del Sol, we are proud of that 'sol', and the fact that it shines well over 300 days a year. That's why millions are passing through Malaga Airport every year. That's why millions are heading to the Costa's beaches practically all year round. Ironically, it is the key to the Costa's success - its dry climate - that is in danger of ruining it, when 'dry' turns to 'drought'.

If we can no longer rely on the rain to provide the water we (and the millions of tourists) need to drink, cook, wash, clean and swim in, we must find it elsewhere. Now, fortunately, the authorities are seriously talking about desalination and coming up with welcome projects to relieve the drought situation in the mid and long term.

This week has brought about a rare image of two leading members of "warring parties", a Socialist minister and the PP president of the Junta de Andalucía, strolling in the beautiful and endangered Doñana National Park, celebrating the agreement they'd reached to stop the use of the depleted water reserves for illegal irrigation.

Now we need similar common sense among political parties to allow these projects designed to relieve the water shortage to get under way as soon as possible - before it rains and they forget about the urgency.

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