The Generalitat has earmarked 221,729 euros for the structural improvement works to the two wastewater pumping stations in Orihuela Costa with the aim of preventing more sewage leaks such as those seen on far too many occasions in recent years.

Leaks and spills occur on a regular basis as anyone living in the vicinity of the two sewage plants will verify, particularly those close to Montezenia where the smell caused by the spills can be overpowering.

In August 2019 who can forget the most infamous of them all when thousands of litres of raw sewage flooded the streets surrounding La Zenia and it’s blue flag beach.

The sewage spilled onto the streets of the popular holiday hotspot running down Ctra de Villamartin before crossing the main N332 road into Av de la Playa, down the hill and then spewing across the seafront promenade and onto the beach which was packed with thousands of holidaymakers.

Footage taken by shocked holidaymakers and expats, showed cars slowing down as they hit large puddles of sewage, excrement mixed with urine and water, on the main road and pedestrians trying to keep their distance as they walked along the pavement to avoid being splashed.

A cyclist pedalling through the sewage in La Zenia Village
A cyclist pedalling through the sewage in La Zenia Village

That particular spill of an estimated 56,000 litres of raw sewage, which caused peak holiday season drama, was blamed on a broken pipe at the plant in Calle Lapislazull, near Zenia Boulevard shopping centre.

The sanitation and purification system that services the Orihuela coastal area, that collects wastewater, drives it towards the Orihuela Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) which is situated in the agricultural land just south of the roundabout at Lomas de Cabo Roig.

However, some of the pumping stations that make up the system are obsolete; they are facilities that are more than 30 years old, facilities that have seen little or no maintenance or improvement in their lifetime.

The work is earmarked to take place on the wastewater pumping stations (EBAR) in Playa Flamenca, with an investment of 144,998 euros, and Horizonte, for 76,731 euros.

The condition of both pumping stations is very poor with much of the pumping equipment badly corroded and completely inadequate to deal with the amount of sewage they are now being required to handle.

Improvements to the sewage system has been one of the main demands of residents for many years due to the poor state of sanitation in the urbanisations of the Oriolano coast that, the population of which multiplies by four during the summer months.

As well as improvements to the pumping stations and their local networks the Valencian Comunidad gave authorisation in mid-2018 for the Public company ESPAR that deals with wastewater sanitation in the Valencian Community to contract works for the enlargement and upgrade of the Wastewater Treatment Plant at a cost of 6,663,111 euros.

Coalition partners Ciudadanos blame the project delay on the fact that the Orihuela council is unable to designate suitable adjacent land, in a public green area, for the improvements to be carried out.

It is now expected that once the problems are resolved, the works will go out to tender with a construction period of 15 months.