In Valle de Abdalajís they have been living on tanker trucks and two wells with scarce water for 16 years. Still thirsty. And this summer, things have gotten worse. “We have cut off the water at about 12 hours a day,” says Mayor José Romero (IU) to elDiario.es/Andalucía. “It has been a particularly bad summer. We have had water cuts morning, afternoon and night,” explains Manuel Romero, who is part of the ‘Mesa del Agua’ neighborhood group. Now they hope that a sentence will force Adif to continue bringing water to the town. But there are no firm long-term solutions on the table.
The minimal rainfall this summer has not helped to improve a situation that brings “uncertainty” to the population. “If they cut off our water for 13 and 14 hours with vats, imagine if they take them away …”, Romero, from the ‘Mesa del Agua’ fears. And he adds: “There are many businesses that do not have future plans because they do not know if they are going to have water.” Silvia Bravo, from the rural house ‘Casa Angelita’, had to buy a tank with a motor so that her visitors would not suffer the consequences of the shortage of water. But having a tank does not solve the problem. “If all the people had one, the lack of water would remain the same,” he says.
The water supply in this Malaga municipality of about 2,500 inhabitants is a “concern” since in 2005 Adif destroyed the municipality’s aquifer while carrying out the construction of the tunnels for the high-speed rail line that connects Córdoba with Málaga. The company, to questions from this newspaper, emphasizes that “it is oblivious to the reduction of the water supply schedule” and that this is due, “in reality”, to the “deficient state of the municipal supply network and the losses of water that generates its poor state of conservation “.
The mayor goes back to the AVE works to analyze the consequences of this water shortage: “At present we have a well that used to give ten liters per second and now it gives three and we have had to start up the old, smaller well. We also have a spring that gives four liters per second. ”
The town also has about 450,000 liters per day supplied by tanker trucks provided by Adif. This measure comes from a 2007 agreement between the company and the City Council in order to guarantee supply until an alternative project for the supply of drinking water and irrigation is carried out. However, this service is in doubt after both institutions entered a lawsuit for which a final judgment is expected in the coming weeks.
Waiting for failure
Adif states that this agreement expired in October of last year and even so it maintained the supply of water through tanks for four more months to “allow time for the negotiation to bear fruit or for the City Council to manage the exercise of the powers that by law. correspond to supply water to the population. ”
In January, as already explained by elDiario.es Andalucía, Adif temporarily terminated the supply of tanker trucks, which led to a complaint from the City Council. The company insists that its debt with Valle de Abdalajís is paid “more than” and that “the contributions from water tanks must end because the agreement on which it was based was terminated in application of Law 40/2015 on the Legal Regime of the Public Sector. “Thus, the company defends that” it lacks the powers to supply water to populations and, consequently, it has no legal basis to continue supplying water tanks by means of tanker trucks. ”
At present, the people of Malaga keep the water from three tanker trucks thanks to the fact that the Central Court of Litigation of the National Court initially agreed with the City Council last April. These precautionary measures have given the municipality time to await the final judgment that is expected in the middle of this month of September.
Whether a resolution is obtained for or against the City Council, it is clear that the water supply for Valle de Abdalajís through tanker trucks cannot be sustained sine die. The company states that the agreement included investments of about 5 million euros to alleviate the problem and build hydraulic infrastructures that will guarantee the water supply. The estimated disbursement so far “is five times that initial figure, exceeding 27 million.”
“We do not want Adif to bring us the vats. It is a waste of money with which they could have made us a channel,” says Manuel Romero. For this reason, from their neighborhood group “they do not understand” how the public company “got up from the table” in January 2021. “We ask for insignificant things for the money that has been invested in bringing the water in trucks.”
Both the City Council and Adif started new negotiations at the beginning of the year. The council requested the improvement of the operation of the two current wells and the return of the 1.5 million euros of compensation that, according to ‘Mesa del Agua’, still have to reach the municipal coffers. “We sat down to have a new agreement for four months until they unilaterally left the table. They forced us to go to court,” says the mayor.
On February 3, directors of Adif and the president of the Malaga Provincial Council, Francisco Salado, went to the town with the will to initiate “a dialogue table.” “The public company proposed increasing the pumping of the well in the tunnel to the municipality because in principle the water is already drinkable and the Provincial Council agreed to improve the existing wells,” says the mayor.
The initial agreement of 2007 conceived “a water conduction pipeline” from Pozos Altos, in the area of the municipality of Álora. However, “this project could not be undertaken due to environmental impact reasons,” says the mayor. The Ministry of the Environment ruled out this solution at the time but has not answered the questions of this newspaper on the subject.
So Romero looked for another alternative. “I myself met with Aguas del Torcal [empresa municipal de abastecimiento de aguas de Antequera] and the Mayor’s Office, who gave me the green light, “says the Vallestero alderman in an attempt to carry out a channeling from the nearby town of Antequera. Neither the administration nor Adif have expressed the intention to initiate this proposal and the City Council continues to” wait. ”
The mayor calls for a “joint action by the different administrations to activate some alternatives that are stagnant.” He insists on “bringing water” from Antequera and has even considered carrying out a transfer of the Iznájar, a reservoir that is not going through its best moment either. “This would be a very long-term solution and we need something more immediate.”
For its part, Adif is “willing to continue talking” with both the City Council and the Malaga Provincial Council to solve this issue, but insists: “It is important not to lose sight of the fact that Adif’s obligation for the construction of a tunnel was to replace an affected service that has already been completely replaced. ”
Pending the final judicial decision, it seems that there are no long-term plans to solve the supply problem in Valle de Abdalajís. “I am not against the AVE, but it has left us in ruins,” says Manuel Romero. And he adds: “Before we were the town of the springs. Now we are the town of the dry land. We only want water. So, what future does the town have?”