Water will be the most precious asset in 2024

Water shortages in 2024 Photo: Shutterstock / kamarulzamanganu

Andalucia closed 2023 with the longest drought since 1961 and the least rainfall since records began in the 19th century.

Its effects are putting the region’s economy in check, with many business sectors severely affected by the lack of rain and high production costs, and residents suffering restrictions brought into force to limit consumption as well as supply problems due to contaminated water from dry reservoirs.

According to data from the State Meteorological Agency (Aemet), Andalucia is suffering a drought that has lasted for more than 5 years and is therefore the longest since 1961, which, together with abnormal temperatures, has led to a drastic reduction in irrigation that has greatly affected crops and also the normal supply of water to the public.

This situation, aggravated between the months of March and August when rainfall was practically non-existent, has forced the Junta de Andalucía to sign a third drought decree with the aim of implementing emergency measures with respect to essential water infrastructures to guarantee water supply.

Water will be the most precious asset for Andalucia in 2024 and the government’s policies for the coming year will be focused on that, with more than €500 million budgeted for actions to try and mitigate the problem.

The impact on the Andalucian countryside

Andalucia, as elsewhere, has had to deal with high production costs all year, but the lack of rainfall has affected crops and ruined many farms as they saw their harvests reduced across the board.

In fact, in Andalucia’s trade balance, where agriculture and livestock are of fundamental importance, exports up to the end of the summer were down over 10 per cent and the lack of water has affected key export products such as olive oil and fruit.

Furthermore, according to government forecasts, 2023 is expected to be the year with the highest claims rate in the history of agricultural insurance, with total indemnities exceeding €1,000 million, of which some €460 million will be allocated to crops affected by the drought.

But in addition to the direct impact on agriculture and livestock, the lack of water in the reservoirs has led to the appearance of toxic agents that have forced the Andalucian Regional Government to decree water unfit for consumption in numerous places throughout the region, with a particular incidence in the provinces of Malaga and Cordoba.

Drinking water supply problems

Specifically, since last March, more than 80,000 residents in the north of Cordoba have had no drinking water supply due to problems in the network with contaminated water, a situation that will not be corrected until spring at the earliest.

More recently, in Nerja, the residents of the village of Maro cannot drink tap water because the Andalucian regional government has declared it unfit for consumption due to an excess of natural radioactivity, which means that they only have 5 litres of bottled water per person per day provided by the authorities.

La Viñuela reservoir

In addition, the province of Malaga has activated water saving measures in the face of the drought situation by banning the use of drinking water for street washing and garden irrigation. The Costa del Sol is already looking to next summer and hoping that rainfall will arrive over the winter to save the tourist season, which is currently under serious threat.

In fact, the authorities are already considering extraordinary measures such as buying drinking water from abroad and sending tankers to the main coastal municipalities which are suffering from the lack of regular supplies.

Drought, a great concern for Andalucians

Drought is already one of the main worries for Andalucians, according to the Barometer of the Centra Foundation, which shows that, on a scale of 0 to 10, the degree of concern about this issue among the population scores an average of 8.6 points.

Among the most appropriate measures to provide a better response to this problem in Andalucia, over 20 per cent are in favour of investing in water infrastructures and the same percentage are in favour of building more desalination plants to make water drinkable. Either way, water will be the most precious resource for the region in 2024.

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Written by

Kevin Fraser Park

Kevin was born in Scotland and worked in marketing, running his own businesses in UK, Italy and, for the last 8 years, here in Spain. He moved to the Costa del Sol in 2016 working initially in real estate. He has a passion for literature and particularly the English language which is how he got into writing.


    • Janice Wooldridge

      01 January 2024 • 15:59

      Water in short supply and still more very large blocks of apartments being built on the Costa del sol
      At Torremolinos

    • Brian Milner

      01 January 2024 • 22:23

      Has everyone forgotten the drought in the 1990s when we were rationed to two hours a day. The population was a lot less in those days, of course but why haven’t they introduced rationing this time seems crazy to me. They seem to value the tourists higher than the local population who are dependent on the water for the whole year.

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