Construction of a desalination plant in Malaga province approved by the Government

Image of La Viñuela reservoir.

Image of La Viñuela reservoir. Credit: JanTappenbeck/Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0

A Royal Decree-law to combat the drought in Spain was approved by the Council of Ministers last Thursday, May 18. It included the construction of a desalination plant in Malaga province.

This action was taken in an effort to deal with the drought at the request of the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (Miteco) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

Aid totalling €2,190 million will be invested to combat the consequences of the current drought with the aim of increasing water resources. Although the Government passed the decision for a desalination plant, it did not specify the area in which it would be built.

Of the total investment, Miteco will contribute €1,400 million to build new infrastructures, such as desalination plants, double the reuse of urban water, and reduce the fees and rates of the affected farms.

It also contemplates the execution of a new transfer to reduce the pressure on the aquifers that feed the Doñana National Park.

Regarding these water infrastructures, the Council of Ministers approved the acceleration of the construction of these buildings, some to be started immediately in the basins affected by the drought.

Among them are emergency pumping and the adequacy of intakes to guarantee a water supply over the coming months, with an estimated budget of €35.5 million.

Miteco has decided to declare various actions of general interest. Therefore, approved a desalination plant to be built in Malaga and Almería with an investment totalling €200 million.

Similarly, one will also be built in Catalonia, a plant in Tordera at a cost of €220 million, and they will also intensify reuse in Alicante, with an investment of €224 million.

Teresa Ribera, the Minister for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, assured that these new water infrastructures will be “priority execution”, but stressed that it was “obvious” that they will not be finished by this summer.

One of the areas of Malaga province most affected by the drought is the Axarquía region. This area contains the Viñuela reservoir, the largest and the one in the worst condition, said to currently be at just 9.7 per cent of its capacity.

Axarquía is also waiting for the construction of a desalination plant to begin. The Junta de Andalucía has yet to decide which of the three proposals that came before allow it to build this facility.

In Marbella, the project that is pending is the expansion of the area’s desalination plant. The Junta de Andalucía assured a few months ago that to carry out this expansion and the construction of the desalination plant in Vélez-Málaga they were going to use part of the money received from the Next Generation European Fund.

One of the latest actions carried out by the Junta de Andalucía in Málaga has been the expansion of the desalination plant at the El Atabal Drinking Water Treatment Station (ETAP), with an investment of almost €2.4 million.

These works consisted of expanding 12 reverse osmosis racks, reforming the second-stage feed pumps and the pipes/connections from the new pressure boxes to the feed, rejection and outlet manifolds.

A total of 117 pressure boxes that house 1,428 reverse osmosis membranes were also installed. Booster pumps that feed the second stage of reverse osmosis were replaced and these pumps were reconditioned (12 units plus another in reserve).

This should allow the flow of pumping to increase from 300 cubic meters per hour to 420 cubic meters per hour. At the same time, they also changed the electric motors and frequency inverters, and the kilowatts were modified from 160 to 250.

As a result, this expansion has increased the capacity to generate water from this desalination plant. The works have managed to produce 220 litres per second.

That means an annual production of seven additional hectometres, which means that the guarantee of a water supply both for Malaga capital and for the entire province, is greater, as reported by

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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at