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05.09.2005

The Minister for the Environment, Cristina Narbona, inaugurates El Atabal desalination plant, in Malaga

In April, the Minister for the Environment, Cristina Narbona, accompanied by the Mayor of Malaga, Francisco de la Torre, and the councilor for the Environment of the Regional Government of Andalusia, Fuensanta Coves, inaugurated El Atabal desalination plant, in Malaga. Befesa was represented by Javier Molina, Guillermo Bravo, Jose Marañon, and Salvador Soler.

The start-up of El Atabal desalination plant, on which 64 million euro has been invested, solves a long-standing situation of lack of water resource quality and quantity in Malaga, as it enables better exploitation of the water from Guadalhorce reservoir, infra-utilized up until now due to its high saline concentration level.

The plant, designed with the state-of-the-art advances in desalination techniques, can treat up to 165,000 cubic meters of water a day, sufficient to supply a population of up to 700,000, which is more than Malaga city’s current population. In this sense, it is considered the most important worldwide for urban supply purposes.

The salinity level, which in the input water oscillates between 6,500 and 850 mg/l, is reduced in the plant to less than 400. The process consists of:

  • Pretreatment, for which the pre-existing El Atabal Drinking Water Treatment Plant facilities have been adapted. Moreover, in this stage reagents are added to the input water to eliminate biological contamination and organic matter, prevent precipitations of calcium carbonate and insoluble salts, regulate the pH and reduce the concentration of free chlorine.
  • Filtering on cartridges containing polypropylene filtering elements that separate particles of up to 5 microns.
  • Two-phase reverse osmosis process, with two lines of 6 frames, each with a 13,750 m3/day capacity, of salt water membranes with 80% conversion, osmotic balance tank and energy recovery from the brine with 2 Pelton turbine alternator units.

Finally, the water is made drinkable by re-mineralization and disinfection.

The reverse osmosis process is performed in two phases so that total or partial operation is possible at all times, depending on the city’s needs and supply sources.

This facility has been constructed by Befesa for the Ministry of the Environment, the promoter of the activity in collaboration with Malaga City Council through its Municipal Water Company, Emasa.