Water reserves guarantee supply for this year but drought rears its ugly head again

2016-04-04 06:00:00

Since the hydrological year started on 1 October, Malaga province has received just 38 per cent of the average rainfall. On 15 March, the reservoir supply dropped to just 335 cubic hectometres, 54.03 per cent of their total capacity and their lowest level since 2009.
This is now the third year with hardly any rain, a period classed as a ‘dry stage’. Although weather experts are quick to stress that this forms part of the normal weather pattern in the province, regional authorities are worried and have started looking into measures to guarantee supply.
Among the action already taken is the repair of the weir and wells at Aljaima, all out of use since 2010 when the Guadalhorce river flooded. The work, costing 1.1 million euros, will allow the release of 2,500 litres a second into the mains supply in Malaga. The city usually consumes between 1,800 and 2,100 litres a second.
The regional environmental representative, Adolfo Moreno, said that if rainfall continues to be scarce, the Junta will be looking into possible restrictions from early 2017.
“Everything will depend on what happens this spring,” he told SUR. The regional government has already warned farmers in the Guadalhorce valley that their irrigation supply cannot be guaranteed after the summer if it doesn’t rain before then.
The three reservoirs supplying the Guadalhorce area (Conde del Guadalhorce, Guadalhorce and Guadalteba) currently hold just 205 cubic hectometres and are not far off the pre-alert drought level.
The Axarquía has already entered the pre-alert stage since the reservoir sits at just 47.88 per cent of its total capacity. The situation in the western part of the province is similar - levels in La Concepción reservoir are at just over 61 per cent of the total.
A pre-alert situation does not imply any types of restriction on water use, but the fact it is in place means that water-saving measures should be taken.
Reservoirs in Malaga lose 29.7 per cent of their water in a year
The reservoirs in the province currently hold nearly 30 per cent less water than they did a year ago. Levels have dropped from 477 cubic hectometres on 15 March 2015 to just 355 on 22 March this year. According to the political party Equo, this brings Malaga to the last but one place in regional reservoir supplies with only Almeria province with less (9.87 per cent of its total capacity) and way below the other provinces. Reservoirs in Seville are at 63 per cent, those in Granada at 58 per cent and supplies in Cadiz province stand at nearly 64 per cent of their total. Equo claims that Malaga has at least two years’ supply available.
The facts
335 cubic hectometres is the amount of water currently available in the province’s reservoirs. This represents 54.03 per cent of their total capacity (620). Over the last year, their level has dropped by 142 cubic hectometres.
167.2 litres per square metre is the amount of rainfall in the province since the start of the hydrological year on 1 October, using the weather station at the airport as a reference. The usual amount, according to the average between 1986 and 2010, is 437.7 litres between October and March. This means Malaga has had just 38 per cent of its normal rainfall. These figures prove that Malaga is in a dry period. The general tendency is for rainfall to be more extreme and for drought periods to last for longer than usual.
Two long droughts over three decades in the province
Malaga province has had two long droughts over the last three decades. The first took place between 1992 and 1995, and the second between 2005 and 2009. It was this drought that forced the Junta de Andalucía to approve specific regulations for 18 towns on the coast who were obliged to adopt water restrictions.
Limitations on water use included prohibitions on cleaning streets using hoses, filling private swimming pools, watering gardens, private and public parks as well as golf courses, washing cars outside designated car washes, and using water for non-closed circuit ornamental fountains and for public showers and drinking fountains. In addition, the towns affected by the measures were not allowed to use more than 230 litres per person and day.source surinenglish