Currently, everything that is put down the sink or toilet is pumped, untreated, through one metre wide underwater pipes from the pumping stations on Burriana and Torrecilla beaches and out to sea, in theory to a distance of one nautical mile, or 1,852 metres.
This system was set up in the 1980’s (so just imagine what it was like before that!), presumably as a temporary solution to the problem of waste disposal due to the incessant delays, forty years and counting so far, with the construction of a proper water treatment plant.
As other towns, such as neighbouring Torrox, have managed to construct not one, but two plants in that time, there is obviously more to the situation than meets the eye or has ever been divulged, the delays spanning local and national administrations of various different persuasions.
It is being reported that, for several years now, divers who regularly cruise the coastline have noticed that the underwater pipes have suffered the ravages of time, nitrates and storms and that there are leaks of fecal material at several points. It is also reported that these leaks occur at no further than 300 metres from the shore (in a straight line) at both Burriana and Torrecilla beaches.
The fact that a resort the size of Nerja, purporting to be the tourist capital of the Costa del Sol Axarquia East and the recipient of no fewer than four EU ‘blue flags’, has no sewage plant is, in itself, a situation which can only be described as disgraceful.
However, if the reports of leaking underwater pipes are true then it would be even worse and tend to suggest that there is no monitoring of the installation. A leaky pipe is not going to get better, it is only going to get worse. One bad storm and…..
No doubt it would be argued that any such monitoring or repair work is the responsibility of this department or that department, probably any one of umpteen municipal, district, provincial, regional or national agencies with a finger in the pie, but what really matters is getting it fixed.
If you discover a leak in your home and are confronted with everyone telling you it is somebody else’s responsibility, you get a little man in, fix the leak and try and get your costs back afterwards.
In the absence of a proper sewage plant, these pipes are the only solution we have, so they need to be maintained.
It is often argued that Nerja is, in fact, no better or worse than a lot of Mediterranean resorts when it comes to residual waste in the sea. That may well be perfectly true, but it doesn’t mean it is right.
To be actively pushing for things like marinas and golf courses to attract more visitors before building a sewage plant seems a little back to front to say the least.
The summer population of Nerja reaches upwards of 75,000 people. Everyone has to go at least once a day, that is what is pumped just offshore every day. Not a pleasant thought.
The latest news on the sewage plant is that they are still drafting the contract in order for the project to be put out to tender but that work could start later this year and could be completed by 2015. But how many times have we heard that?
The only perverse consolation is that tides and currents often mean that the waste matter is swept away to neighbouring Torrox or Almuñecar, a situation which leads to periodic ‘choice remarks’ being made by residents and officials in those communities.
And returning to the question of possible leaky pipes. Whether true, false, rumour or political speculation, the situation needs to be checked and the public informed as to the true state of affairs.