L'eau, les fleuves et les rivières
Texte original extrait de la version en anglais.
Los Montes de Málaga, in the broad sense, are a succession of hills with their maximum rise on the Cerro de Santo Pilar (1,020 m), located above the Totalán village north of Rincón de la Victoria and about 10 kilometres in a straight line from the beach. Then the hills start waning away eastward as the summits gradually approach the coastline then to disappear in the Vélez river as the Peñon de Almayate.
This means that the river courses that are generated in the watershed of the Santo Pílar, all draining to the south, are longer and more substantial in the west at the beginning of this stage. And so the Arroyo (or Río) Totalán, its fork shared by Olías and Totalán villages, must be the largest river of this stage, if one can use that term considering how short the length of the valleys is.
Then there is still a good number of little streams which flow on schist and slates on extremely steep slopes. Here, since time immemorial, olive and almond trees thrive, also some remaining grapevines. Where the terrain and the availability of water allows, there are avocados, mangos, kiwis and papayas. This diversification of production, by adding non-traditional crops, is especially important for the economy of the valleys.
Direction east the Great Path of Málaga meets the Arroyos, or streams, of Las Piletas Los Villodres, Granadilla, Cuevas, Benagalbón, Santillán, Chilches, Cañuelo, Adelfa, Iberos, Almayate and del Búho among others. Although there is a profusion of streams, they lack in size. In general, the hiker will rarely manage to see them. Most of the time it’s more by guesswork than anything else that you can recognize the delta of one of these streams as they can be meagre puddles on the beaches. The deceptively tame nature of all of the streams leads to such sights as vehicles parked under the pedestrian bridges or even whole meetings of locals, but one must take into account that the Mediterranean climate is characterised by unusual storms, above all at the beginning of autumn, returning every year without fail. The final sections of the natural draining systems of Los Montes de Málaga cannot therefore, support vegetation other than some oleander and tamarisk, becoming in fact dry streambeds used by the locals as just another means of communication, and so does the GR-249. From time to time you will find dense populations of cane, which do not last long if they are near a town or a village.
The Vélez River naturally deserves a special mention. It is much longer but its waters are depleted by the Viñuela reservoir and irrigation ditches, it comes back each year but it expires again towards the summer. From the geological point of view it’s a wide delta of Quaternary deposits which has lost its dynamic character due to the above.
Despite being listed in the inventory of Andalucían Wetlands and being studied as a possible Natural Monument, the truth is that the real threats to the River are ongoing and alarming. High impact recreation, agricultural use and urban pollution, as well as industrial contamination being the main threats to this river, which deserves better treatment because of its importance to wildlife, especially the birds. The vegetation in the area where the river intersects with the walk is made up by one of the most impressive groves of poplars of the fi nal section of the walk, with some eucalyptus trees, dense reed beds and some
rushes. Recently the Diputación de Málaga, as part of the same project called “Idara” which sponsors this GR, has installed a birdwatching observatory on the left bank near the delta of the Vélez river, less than a kilometre away from the walk after crossing the river and planted native species of fl ora at the same time. It is an initiative that joins the numerous organizations and citizens who recognize the importance and value of the delta environment. The delta, as it holds islands, is suitable for nesting, resting and wintering of dozens of species of birds, some of them endangered.
The importance of water will be especially noticeable with irrigation channels at the end of Stage 2, and you will be walking next to some of the major channels bordering the rock of Peñon de Almayate. Other than the water being important for agriculture, its essential use for human consumption is evident in the urban and industrial water pipes running parallel to the path. This is the only place where they could have been laid out due to the shape of the terrain and the consequent stretched layout of the cities. While the origin of the drinking water is mainly the Viñuela reservoir, waste water management faces the same problems as it does along the whole coast. The latter have been corrected by means of the corresponding treatment facilities in Rincón de la Victoria and Vélez Málaga and numerous pump stations carrying water to the submarine emitters, after it has been treated. Thus an initially complex problem has found the right solution.