La Viñuela last week. / ÑITO SALAS

What to do about the water?

I resisted the urge to shout at people who I watched hosing down their houses as the calima was still hanging in the air

Jennie Rhodes

On the same day that the mayor of Benamargosa announced there'd be no water festival as part of the annual feria this year, the Axarquía's Mancomunidad also released a statement asking the 31 towns and villages in the area to reduce their water consumption by 20 per cent. Proposals included not filling private swimming pools and taking showers instead of baths.

But we're already more than half way through July and I am quite sure that any swimming pool that was going to be filled has already been in use for at least a month.

Also, to the best of my knowledge, the Spanish are much more a nation of showers than bathers, although I could be wrong. Even the majority of Brits who may be partial to a warm soak during a cold British winter, have probably taken to showering since moving here, especially in summer.

One of the problems faced by the authorities is the argument that if the subtropical fruit sector is allowed to use vast amounts of La Viñuela's resources, then residents don't see why they should be the ones who have to reduce their own consumption.

Then came the calima and sales of jet washers went through the roof as property owners rushed to try to restore their houses to their former brilliant white glory. Town halls have introduced measures which include cutting the water bills so people can clean their houses. Some of the villages even overlook the reservoir and can practically see it draining away before their very eyes! Absolute madness in my view.

I resisted the urge to shout at people who I watched hosing down their houses as the calima was still hanging in the air back in March and April and sat on my hands so as not to write comments on photos posted on social media of people doing likewise (Spanish and foreign, I hasten to add).

People are often very surprised to hear that I grew up with hosepipe bans in the south-east of England, where the general assumption is that it rains every day. It's sort of second nature to me then to try to save water.

The problem for me is the battle of my conscience. As a foreigner here, I don't feel that I can go around telling the people who have welcomed me into their country what to do.

However, the area really is facing a crisis and perhaps that is more important right now than my reservations about criticising aspects of a country that I have voluntarily moved to.

Here it all feels like too little, too late, but that can be said for the climate crisis globally. What is happening in the Axarquía is happening everywhere else and I guess regardless of where I lived, I would want to see more real action on climate change.