Thursday, November 26, 2009


It is often said that the future wars will be over water – you might say “and fuel” – but of course we’re fighting over that now. There are no wars in Jimena de la Frontera but there are currently two battles over water which perhaps are a sign of the wider things to come.

The Andalucía regional government and its water agency seem intent on proceeding with the project to build a reservoir on the Gibralmedina to meet the water needs of the western Costa del Sol.

The Gibralmedina stream flows through the zone known as the “arroyo de las gallinas” in Jimena. The rural lane and stream meets the Guadiaro river in Jimena although half the valley zone is in Gaucín.

In January on this blog I broke the news that the water agency was undertaking drillings in the valley. At the time the local residents spoken to voiced their strong opposition to the area being turned in to a giant reservoir as many people would loose both their lands and homes. Indeed many refused to allow the surveyors and drilling equipment on to their land.

Curiously the initial report from the regional government says the residents fully support the project. However local resident Dominic Bolus said: “They have not yet contacted anybody. The whole valley will be up in arms against it and we will fight it.”

The people who do support it is the association speaking for agriculture sector in nearby San Pablo de Buceite who say they’ve been demanding such a reservoir of years. There is no indication they’ll be able to irrigate their land with water destined for the Costa del Sol - and few if any of the association’s members live in the valley.

The reservoir would have a capacity of at least 100 cubic hectometres. This is said to be sufficient water to meet the needs of the western Costa del Sol and the Campo de Gibraltar.

Agaden spokesperson, Quico Rebolledo, has condemned the project as “an authentic barbarity” and it is known that a protest campaign is to be started. The Izquierda Unida co-ordinator general in Jimena, Francisco Gómez, said his party was in contact with Agaden and would back its efforts. He added that talks were being held with the Andalucía IU MP for Cádiz, Ignacio García, to discover just what the regional government is intending.

The IU’s MP for Málaga and the co-ordinator of the party in the province, José Antonio Castro, accused the water agency and regional government of following an “incoherent” policy. He stated that in the Ley de Agua de Andalucía the policy is not to build giant dams of this type. In last week’s parliamentary debate on the law he expressed his party’s opposition to the Gibralmedina project saying the dam would break the natural cycle of the river in a natural zone where it is so important.

To the other side of Jimena and running past the village itself is the Hozgarganta river. The ecologist group Agaden has made an official complaint to the Cádiz environmental prosecutor over the indiscriminate removal of land with vegetation that has been taking place there in recent weeks.

Izquierda Unida in Jimena says the works at Treveris were permitted but the company involved had exceeded the depth permitted by its licence and this has led to the collapse of a natural wall with the threat of flooding when the rains come. They also confirm that the environmental arm of the Guardia Civil – Seprona - and the forest guard have ordered a halt on frequent occasions.

The IU added that there could exist possible administrative irregularities as the company has taken the earth from the river to an earth storage area in Marchenilla where it will be used for commercial gain without any permissions being granted.

The co-ordinator general of the IU in Jimena, Francisco Gómez, has called for the immediate resignation of any officials who have been involved in this operation. The IU says it is ironic that for some months the ministry of the environment has been staging its “Anda Ríos” conservation programme in Jimena promoting the value of the river, fauna and habitat at the same time the town hall has stood by and allowed the destruction of the Hozgarganta.

Jimena de la Frontera is an area of great natural beauty part of which sits in Los Alcornocales national park. The responsible management of the area’s water is vital to maintain the rich flora and fauna – and indeed for ‘us’ to survive.

Of course Jimena is one small zone in Andalucía but this scenario is being played out in municipalities and regions throughout Spain – and across the wider world. Today’s battles will become tomorrow’s wars.

Photos: top - possible site of dam on the Gibralmedina; below - Fran Gómez at earth removal site on Hozgarganta.

The arroyo las Gallinas lane and the Gibralmedina stream that runs through it is to the Manilva - Gaucín side of the Guadiaro river. It can be reached from the San Pablo to Gaucín road - its entry is on the left, beyond the Málaga boundary at a lane with a bus stop, several houses and the Venta Manolo. From Jimena you can cross the bridge at the bar at the junction of the Marchanilla - San Martín - San Pablo roads, then go left at the t-junction and the lane starts between the wood yard and El Dorado farm school. The Gibralmedina joins the Guadiaro about half a kilometre up stream from the bridge on the left. The stream is dry except in heavy rains but the waters now run below the surface hence the drillings to test its flow and the aquifers. During the drought of the 1990s the wells in the valley never ran dry. As far as I am aware there are no plans to dam the Guadiaro and the photo at the top of the page shows the most likely dam wall location.


PROSPERO said...

Excellent article yet again Sancho! As I said on JimenaPulse's piece on this, though, we are all missing one very important item: a map/plan of where exactly this 'new' reservoir is supposed to be located. Or is this yet another example of the obscure 'transparency' of our elected officials?

Clive said...

If there's a drought who is going to get the water - the farmers of San Pablo or the Costa del Sol? The latter of course. Whilst no map has been issued the valley of the Gibralmedina as discussed in the above blog is fairly well defined.

simon said...

Good article about an important issue but we really can't say much against or in favour unless we know where it is going to be!!

Clive - when you say that the valley of the Gibralmedina is fairly well defined do you mean that you know where it will be? Can you enlighten us?

The JimenaPulse article mentioned the Guadiaro - is that different?