The most feared moment has arrived. The almost total absence of rain this fall and winter has precipitated the inevitable: the implementation of water consumption restrictions starting this Wednesday, January 10. These restrictions will come, for now, in the form of mild pressure decreases from 6:00 to 23:00, and "drastic" – in the words of the president of the Mancomunidad, Susana Pérez Custodio – from that hour until 6:00 in the morning. This will be noticeable as "a trickle" of water in most homes and a complete water cut in higher geographical areas or upper floors of buildings. This, as acknowledged by Arcgisa, will not be the same for everyone. Depending on whether the affected building, community, or development has its own cistern or reservoir, it will be "inevitable" that "some people will have water," commented the director of Arcgisa, José Manuel Alcántara.
"Especially at this point, we ask for responsibility from different users because during these hours, from eleven at night to six in the morning, if there is any trickle of water in a home, we ask that the restriction be absolute on the part of the users themselves," added the president of the Mancomunidad, emphasizing that the less significant reduction in water pressure during the day "will be less noticeable" as there have already been occasional pressure decreases in recent months.
Furthermore, prohibitions on public and private irrigation in agriculture, cleaning of roads and ornamental fountains, public showers and dispensers, and car washes outside authorized establishments will increase, under penalty of sanctions for non-compliance and even sealing of meters if necessary, indicated Alcántara. All this is a consequence of the exceptional drought and severe scarcity in which the Campo de Gibraltar finds itself and in accordance with the provisions of the Order of October 7, 2021, from the Junta de Andalucía, as well as in the Drought Plan for the Campo de Gibraltar.
This measure, already announced after the meeting of the Drought Board last October, is now being implemented due to the almost complete absence of rain since then, with reservoirs already below the critical levels marked at 41.5 hm3, and after enduring "five years" in an extreme situation. This is different from the drought of the 90s when the reservoirs were "completely emptied" in "three years," recalled Alcántara. Assuming the levels hold for one more year, it will have been six years, doubling the resistance capacity of the service. This, according to the leader of Arcgisa, is motivated by individual and collective responsibility measures taken in recent years to reduce consumption, both by individuals and large companies, or investments in infrastructure.
The restrictive measures announced on Monday will remain in effect indefinitely while the reservoirs remain below the minimum level and will not be completely lifted if the minimum capacity is regained. They may become more severe "if it continues not to rain until June," said Alcántara, who announced that the Drought Board will meet periodically to analyze the situation's evolution.
The goal is to achieve a 20% reduction in consumption by the beginning of the hydrological year in October.
Pérez Custodio has called for citizen collaboration and the collaboration of the eight municipalities in the region since "the various city councils were informed last week that the restrictions would begin this Wednesday, January 10." "We ask the eight city councils to collaborate with this Mancomunidad, keep their citizens informed, and also serve as an example regarding restrictions and responsible water use," she added.
Meanwhile, the Delegate of Services, Manuel Avellán, recalled that they have been in a "dramatic situation of drought for almost five years, and unfortunately, the latest measures are the ones that directly affect citizens." "It is a measure that no one likes to announce but is totally necessary given the situation we are in," he added. Manuel Abellán also noted that despite having to take these measures, a great effort had been made to reduce consumption by various sectors, from individuals to the tourism sector, passing through golf courses or industry.
The director of Argisa, José Manuel Alcántara, explained that there is a critical level that marked 41.5 hectares of water in the reservoirs of Charco Redondo and Guadarranque, and "today it is below that level. The worst-case scenario within the drought board that met in October has been fulfilled because it has hardly rained, and contributions to the reservoirs have been minimal."
Criticism from Ruiz Boix for selling water to the Costa del Sol
Meanwhile, the mayor of San Roque, Juan Carlos Ruiz Boix, has called for responsibility from citizens, companies, and farmers "so that we become aware of the reality of the situation of the Castellar and Charco Redondo reservoirs, below 20% of their capacity."
However, the mayor does not understand that during this dry season, excess water from the Campo de Gibraltar was sold to Acosol, the water company on the Costa del Sol, and that now, in times of scarcity, these measures only affect the residents of the Campo de Gibraltar.
For this reason, he criticizes the Junta because the only works carried out in the region are precisely the pipelines to supply water to the Costa del Sol. "We are a supportive land, but we also want the saving measures to be applied to the areas that benefit from our water, such as the Costa del Sol."
La Línea reduces its consumption by 26% and cuts irrigation in gardens and street watering
La Línea de la Concepción has been reducing consumption over the last few years, by 26% since 2021 and 15% since 2022, as announced by the City Council in a statement.
The mayor of La Línea de la Concepción, Juan Franco, chaired a meeting on Monday with various councilors and deputy mayors, prior to the announcement of the measures announced by the Drought Board of the Campo de Gibraltar for a suspension of water supply, through a drastic decrease in pressure on the network during the night hours, starting Wednesday, January 10.
On behalf of the municipal delegation of Parks and Gardens, which is responsible for Councilor José María Matas, all irrigation in public parks and green spaces will be cut. From the Cleaning department, under the responsibility of Councilor Rafael León, street watering in public thoroughfares will be suspended.
In addition, Councilor and Municipal Delegate of the Environment, Raquel Ñeco, will communicate to all communities of owners with public gardens to proceed with cutting all irrigation systems.
At the municipal level, a call has been made to citizens to collaborate with the measures taken, aiming to achieve the goal of reducing consumption in the face of the current severe drought situation.
Los Barrios has been watering with non-potable water for years
The delegate of Parks and Gardens of Los Barrios, Cristina Silva, explained this noon that the company in charge of street cleaning and parks and gardens "uses non-potable water, taken from the irrigation outlet located on Padre Juan José Street, specifically well water."
Silva highlighted that "the City Council was ahead of the shortage of water in recent years by implementing measures for the optimization and control of the use of an essential resource such as water, using non-potable water."
"In addition to this, the implementation of irrigation systems in green areas has been added to optimize water expenditure," said the delegate.
The councilor pointed out that "the company in charge of the street cleaning service extracts this water not suitable for human consumption and allocates it to municipal uses, such as loading the street sweeping sweepers of the cleaning service, in addition to garden irrigation."
Finally, Silva has asked the concessionaire company to display the 'Non-potable Water' sign on all cleaning machinery used. "This way, citizens will see that the City Council uses well water for cleaning and irrigation."