You will have no doubt heard about the move to refill the Almuñécar vega wells with recycled water and the protests up at Rules Dam.
The reason being is that the municipality’s 12,000 hectares of vegas along the banks of Dry river and Green River where most of the mangos, avocados and chirimoyos are grown, are thirsty and water is scarce.
Waiting for the water stored in the dam to reach Almuñécar is a waste of time because even though construction, which began in 1993 (the same years as the debut of the Gazette) was completed in 2004, there is still no irrigation network in place.
In fact even when the dam was completed in that year and the slow process of filling it up began, the whole operation was halted because an dual carriageway support on the banks of the reservoir began to sink and had to be rectified.
So, with the damn dam out of the picture, the water has to come from somewhere else to rescue the vega irrigation wells – bear in mind that 60% of them are now critically low, which if not dealt with will herald in another problem; seawater infiltration. As the fresh water disappears from the water table, then saline water, which is heavier, will find its way into the wells and kill off any trees that are watered from them. This happened in the late 80s / early 90s.
But there is another problem: when we get a dry year like this one, more water has to be pumped up to keep the vegas going and with the present exorbitant electricity prices, the farmers are hit with extra costs which they can’t pass on because the first-stage, middle men screw them down to production-cost prices or even lower.
At the moment there are 2,500 hectares of cultivated land in lower reaches of the vega closest to the sea that are on the point of a seawater catastrophy.
The farmers blame the politicians (of all colors) who have not been able to bring the water from Rules to the coast in the last 20 years, but the farmers themselves are also to blame. You don’t need to be clairvoyant to see that each year there is less rain, nevertheless each year farmers get heavy machinery out to terrace more hillside in order to plant more thirsty fruit trees. It’s ludicrous.
Besides, a healthy percentage of politicians on the coast have irrigated land in their extended family’s possession, as well.
As it stands, the irrigation communities calculate that by October-November the first wells will dry up, unless there is bountiful – and this is important – steady rain; a cloudburst and flooding does more damage than good.
So, what about recycled water? Again, politicians doing what they are best at – stalling. Ten months ago across-the-board support was given by political parties during a plenary of the Association of Municipalities to send a request to the Junta de Andalucía to permit recyced water from the WWTPs to be pumped down into the water table – it’s no good using it directly because the watertable has to be kept high to keep seawater out.
In July the Council agreed, but then came the squabbling over who would execute the work to connect the seabed pipe to the vega wells and who was going to pay for it.
The Commonwealth, controlled by the socialists, wants the Council, controlled by the conservatives, to foot the bill. Almuñécar is government by a conservative Mayor, so you would expect some support from the Junta. We’re talking about 200,000 euros, more or less, which is a layout which is beyond the capacity of the irrigation communities.
In the meantime, the water level in the wells is going down rapidly.
(News: Almunecar, Costa Tropical, Granada, Andalucia)