The Regional Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Sustainable Development, Carmen Crespo, has visited, together with the Mayor of Cuevas del Almanzora, Antonio Fernández, the emergency works being carried out by the Andalusian Government to improve the supply guarantee for the municipalities of the Almanzora Valley. Specifically, almost 6.8 million euros are being mobilised for their execution. If the forecasts are met, these tasks will be completed by the end of October after nine months of work.
In her speech, Carmen Crespo stressed that the Junta’s objective is to have the necessary hydraulic infrastructures in order to be “in the best situation” in the face of a drought situation “as difficult” as the one currently affecting the Autonomous Region. The Regional Minister highlighted the foresight with which the Government of Juanma Moreno is acting, which, thanks to the approval of the Drought Decree in the summer of 2021, has already been able to implement all the works contemplated by this regulation in the areas declared as ‘exceptional drought’ in the Andalusian intra-community basins. As the head of Sustainable Development explained, “throughout Andalusia, a series of emergency actions valued at around 18 million euros” are being carried out to guarantee access to water, “fundamentally for supply”.
In addition, Crespo stressed that work is already underway “on the extension of this drought decree”, a matter that is expected to be addressed in the Governing Council of the Junta “in the coming weeks”; and has advanced that next Thursday, March 10, he will meet again with the Secretary of State for the Environment, Hugo Morán, to “highlight all the actions that this land needs in the field of water and that the central government should address because they are works of general interest of the State”.
In this regard, he recalled that the works relating to the desalination plants of Carboneras, Bajo Almanzora and Campo de Dalías in Almeria are still pending, and he has opted to take advantage of the Next Generation funds “to carry out the works of general State interest” pending in the Autonomous Community more quickly. Furthermore, among the Andalusian Government’s requests to the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge is also the approval of the use of the resources of the Torrevieja desalination plant for the northern area of Almeria.
The Councillor remarked that “our eagerness is always to collaborate with all the administrations” to make projects that respond to the needs of the population a reality, and regretted that the current Andalusian Government has had to act on “works that should have been completed many years ago”.
As for the future, Carmen Crespo announced that in just 15 days work will begin on the Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) in Cuevas del Almanzora, which has an investment of 7.6 million euros. “A step forward that will allow us to have an additional water source through the use of regenerated water in the east of Almeria,” said the Minister, who recalled that the Junta is mobilising a significant amount of economic resources to have 8 cubic hectometres of this water in Almeria.
Water supply to the Almanzora valley
Specifically, the work being carried out in Cuevas del Almanzora aims to improve the pumping system using the existing facilities of the El Saltador-Embalse de Cuevas pipeline and its connection with the Negratín-Almanzora transfer pipeline to raise the water demanded by the population to the Tíjola reservoir. Moreover, these works have been carried out with foresight so that they will continue to be effective in the event of a possible increase in the population, the hotel sector, industry and industrial estates in the future.
The source of the resources used to supply 27 municipalities in the Levante, Lower and Middle Almanzora are the Cuevas del Almanzora, the Carboneras desalination plant and the Negratín-Almanzora and Tajo-Segura water transfers. However, given the current scarcity of water resources, the guarantee of supply to this population relies practically on desalinated resources. For this reason, the works promoted by the Regional Ministry of Sustainable Development are of great importance, as they will allow the necessary water to be pumped above the level of the reservoir, including both resources from the dam and from the desalination plant or from the activation of the Pelotar wells.
In this respect, the mayor of Cuevas del Almanzora thanked “the urgency with which this important work is going to be undertaken”, which will benefit more than 130,000 users. “We have an exceptional water situation and we are grateful that the administrations, and in this case the Junta de Andalucía, are acting with the speed that is needed”, said Antonio Fernández, who is committed to “working together to tackle this terrible problem of drought”.
In addition to the Councillor and the Mayor, the Secretary General of European Funds for Sustainable Rural Development, Manuel Alías; the Director General of Water Infrastructures, Álvaro Real; and the territorial delegate of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Aránzazu Martín, also participated in the visit to the works.
Actions on dams in Almeria
In addition to the emergency works to improve the guarantee of supply to the municipalities of the Almanzora Valley, the Regional Ministry of Sustainable Development is mobilising 1.3 million euros to reduce possible water losses in the spillway of the Cuevas del Almanzora dam (731,000 euros) and to minimise the leaks that may occur in this infrastructure (590,000 euros).
In addition to these tasks, work is also being carried out prior to the awarding of disaster prevention and management works at the Cuevas del Almanzora and Benínar dams, which will be allocated an initial budget of 11 million euros. And at the provincial level, the Andalusian government is also working on energy efficiency (162,000 euros) and maintenance (1.9 million euros) of the Almeria dams.