Maro Water Situation

We received this translation of the minutes from a meeting in the Nerja Town Hall about the water situation for the municipal dependency of Maro.


In the Maro Multipurpose Room, at 1:00 p.m. on January 3, 2024

BACKGROUND In the month of December 2024, Maro’s tap water was declared unfit for human consumption. In the time leading up to the announcement, and in the days following, a series of events took place involving a wide range of agencies, stakeholders and the general public. The meeting in the multipurpose room, called by the First Councillor (Alcaldesa) of Maro and the City Council, was an attempt to provide clarity to a situation that had come to everyone as an unwanted surprise, and that left many wanting reliable information from the authorities about what was happening.

PRELIMINARY NOTE This document has been compiled by Jon Stein, with the assistance of various members of the community. The notes were taken from an audio recording of the meeting that was not always clear or easy to transcribe. It should not be taken as a literal summary of the situation, nor viewed as a document with any legal position. Its authors have no responsibility for the use made of its content, nor for the acts derived from its publication. The hope is that it can serve as a report of the public meeting and a stimulus for additional debate for public health and safety reasons. This is an English version of the document.

COMPOSITION OF THE TABLE: The delegate councilor for Health of the Nerja City Council, Javier Rodriguez Alonso; the Mayor of the district, Nuchi Moreno, and Jon Stein, vice-president of the Maro Neighborhood Association taking the note. José Alberto Tomé from the Infrastructure Delegation could not attend because he was ill. Also present were a total of around 55 residents of Maro, plus some councillors from the PSOE.


(The numbers in parentheses correspond to the times in the audio recording made by Jon Stein)

1. Explanation from Señora Nuchi (0’00 — 5’20) about the events from the end of August when a water sample was taken in Maro, until December 15 when the Department of Health announced that the water was not suitable for consumption. Key dates include (this list is not exhaustive and requires verification):

• August 28 – a sample of water is taken from the manantial (spring) of Maro,

• September 22 – the analysis that finds a high level of radioactivity (radio alpha) ends,

• October 2 – another sample is taken again and sent to the laboratory,

• November 30 – analysis ends,

• December 13 – the last analysis is signed by the technical manager,

• Dec 15 – the Ministry of Health communicates that Maro water is not suitable for consumption. At 2:00 p.m.,  Señora Nuchi alerts neighbours about the problem through messages on different WhatsApp groups and visits to private homes.

Regarding the level of contamination of natural radioactivity in the water, Nuchi explains that there is a reference of 0.10 and this latest analysis came out at 0.17 units. (Here are some interventions from the public, for example that the level in the August 2023 analysis was 0.23, and that overexploitation has lowered the water level).

2. Presentation by Javier Rodríguez (5’20-12’35) from the Delegation of Environment and Public Health, also a biologist who has his own laboratory. He summarises the situation so far and explains that:

• The health authorities are the Consejería de Salud and the Ministerio de Sanidad, so the Council has limited competence.

• The Royal Decree of 3/2023 establishes the health criteria for water for human consumption and sets guidelines. The ‘alpha radioactivity’ came out to 0.23 in the August 2023 analysis, which is known on the date of September 26.

• Natural radioactivity has only been measured since 2018 (following another Royal Decree) and on many occasions since then there was radioactivity, even at levels higher than 0.23 units, so the value of 0.17 is small but sufficient, below the current law, to that the water be declared unfit for human consumption.

• When the Council receives the results of the analyses it immediately sends it to superior authorities and the Consejeria de Salud and the latter makes a resolution dictating what has to be done. This happened on December 15 (which date coincides with the Aguas de Narixa press release) at 12:41 p.m. Minutes later the water is cut off and bottles begin to be distributed, then reconnecting the supply after having disseminated the information that the water is suitable for domestic use, but not for drinking or cooking.

• On the SINAC website (the National Information System for Drinking Water) you can see the results of the water analyses.

The councillor apologises for the absence of his colleague José Tomé, who has responsibility for infrastructure, and refers to the efforts made by the Council to bring water to Maro as soon as possible, taking advantage of the work on the bike lane and installing an emergency pipeline. He refers to the investment of 600,000 euros in a work that will connect Maro with the Nerja and Viñuela system.

Jon’s note: from approximately time 12:35 in the recording, questions and comments from the public begin. This phase of the meeting continues almost until the end of the recording, that is, for more than an hour, but despite the obvious importance of the audience’s interventions, the transcription of the recording poses some problems:

1. Because I do not know all the names of all the speakers, I cannot attribute the comments

2. The tone of the meeting changes from an individual speech to a public debate with the challenge of sometimes hearing different voices speaking at the same time

3. from time to time the voices from the back of the room are not heard as clearly or I have difficulty understanding due to the accent or speed of the voice

4. Sometimes there is a repetition of material or a regression in topics already covered making literal transcription, and reading, arduous.

For these reasons and for simplification I have allowed myself to make a synthesis of the material, grouping it into main themes. Where authorities have provided responses, I have chosen not to include them here as I do not want to risk misrepresenting what has been said for the reasons set out above.

3. Discussion/comments/questions from the public

There were several comments, questions and answers that can be grouped into the following broad categories:

a) Climate, precipitation and water levels

i) What is the current situation regarding the amount of water available in the area, for example in wells, aquifers and reservoirs?

ii) Taking into account the impossibility of predicting the probability of rain in the coming weeks and months, what solutions does the Council propose in the medium/long term and what measures is it taking now?

iii) What emergency plans are being drawn up in the event that Nerja itself faces similar problems in relation to water quality/quantity in the future?

b) Availability of information and transparency of the organisations involved

i) How does being a member state of the European Union influence the treatment of water quality, citizens’ right to information and other related issues?

ii) What historical information exists about water quality in Maro, who owns it, and how can the public access it?

iii) What is the relationship between the competent bodies, for example the Council, Agua Narixa and Aqualia, and what impact will this have on the future distribution and pricing of water?

c) Technical issues, including water testing and analysis

NOTE: There were other issues discussed and questions asked here, but this being one of the most important, and perhaps the most technical, aspects of the debate, I prefer to wait for further clarification and confirmation from the relevant authorities.

i) Why does it take two months — even in an emergency — to obtain a water analysis?

d) Questions related to the countryside, agriculture, irrigation and crops

i) If Maro’s domestic water is not suitable for domestic consumption, should farmers use it to irrigate their crops?

ii) What is the role of la comunidad de regantes (irrigation association), and how can EU funds be used to improve the water distribution system in the countryside (see infrastructure issues below)?

e) Domestic, commercial and other uses of water

i) What guidelines are being provided regarding domestic water use, including water saving measures, for example in showering?

ii) How is the Council preparing for the possible future impact of the drought on local businesses, particularly those offering accommodation to tourists and visitors? (The logistical difficulty of providing bottled drinking water to customers was mentioned.)

iii) What decisions is the Council making about the use of water for general maintenance, e.g., water green spaces on roundabouts, and in public spaces like the beach?

iv) Is it always necessary to wait for protocols before taking sensible and preventive measures?

f) Issues related to infrastructure, current works, leaks, losses

i) How will the interconnection of networks and new technologies such as desalination affect Maro and what happens to the water from the treatment plant?

ii) Regarding the works on the road between Nerja and Maro, what is the relationship between the different water pipes, how have the works been planned, and when will they be completed?

iii) How are substantial water losses in the system, through leaks, etc., being addressed?

iv) What is the future of the Maro spring?

g) Various other questions/issues

Of the other issues that were mentioned or raised, the following were included:

• The drought of 1993/4? and the response of the authorities/community at that time,

• The question of geo-engineering and whether the presence of planes in the sky above the area could have something to do with changing weather patterns.

• The situation in which the residents of Puente del Águila find themselves.

• Who to contact if leaks are discovered, and which City Council department to contact regarding water problems in general.


Note: This is a summary of some of the important points and has been compiled by Mirek Kaminski, president of the Ladera del Águila Owners Association, and approved by the councillor for Health of the Nerja City Council, Javier Rodríguez.

1 – Radioactivity measurements have been mandatory since 2018. One reason for this is that a measurement technique is available. Therefore, there is no data on radioactivity before this date.

2 – for two successive measurements of radioactivity, which are above the norm, the water should not be used for drinking and cooking.

3 – water can be used again for drinking and cooking when three subsequent and successive measurements are below the permitted value of 0.1

4 – it seems that the radioactivity measurement method requires time — approximately 3 weeks. Therefore, the water may be suitable for drinking and cooking no earlier than 3 months.

5 – the rule is very strict. (Note from Mirek: in the US, the norm is about 0.56! That is, more than 5 times less strict)

6 – The temporary drinking water supply in Maro has water from Nerja. However, its diameter is too small to be used to supply the entire Maro.

7 – The City Council is urgently installing a new permanent pipeline to Maro from Nerja. This work takes time. It will be done in 2024. The target is April, but an exact completion date cannot be given at the current stage of work.


EPILOGUE – On behalf of the AAVV of Maro, I would like to thank the Nerja City Council, the Mayor of Pedáneo, Mrs. Nuchi and Councillor Javier Rodríguez for their time, effort and willingness to communicate with the people on this issue. We hope this meeting sets a precedent for continued conversation about this, and other issues affecting our community.​​​​​​

Jon Stein 14.1.24, Maro

(News/Noticias: Reader’s Letter)

  2 comments for “Maro Water Situation

  1. Judy
    April 3, 2024 at 10:16 pm

    Hi Christina,
    There has been no official ruling that I’ve heard of since mid-March when it was announced that private pools would not be allowed to use potable water to fill them this summer. Only pools that are designed to use salt water will be allowed to be replenished. This could possibly change due to the recent rainfall – probably best to ask the managers of your complex to keep you updated. Enjoy your holiday!

  2. Christina
    April 3, 2024 at 5:29 pm

    I am planning a holiday at Oasis de Capistrano from 28th April. Please can someone tell me if the Spanish water ban means that the swimming pools will be closed? Many thanks

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