Finding Water on Tenerife

Wed, August 21st, 2013 - By Andrea Montgomery

It never ceases to amaze me how, despite not seeing a drop of rain for months on end and heatwaves wafting across the island like it’s being blasted by a demented, oversized hair dryer with a broken thermostat, in the 10 years I’ve lived on Tenerife I have never known there to be a hosepipe ban.

 

Masca Barranco

 

Coming from a country where, if it happens to stop raining for anything beyond three consecutive weeks, a hosepipe ban is imposed and talk of dwindling reservoirs reaches the front page of tabloids, it’s difficult to reconcile the difference between the two islands. On Tenerife it only rains UK-style during two months of the year; there are no reservoirs, no rivers and very little surface water yet there never seems to be an issue.

But just because we can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Tenerife’s seemingly endless water supply is mainly hidden below ground.

 

Mount Teide

 

Tenerife’s water comes from three main sources – its rainfall, the winter snow that annually coats Mount Teide and from low clouds, or bruma as they’re known. Point any webcam on the island inwards instead of out to sea and the chances are what you’ll see quite frequently is cloud. Hanging over the mountain ridges of Adeje, Arona, La Orotava, Buenavista and the Anagas for much of the year and frequently descending through the forests around the 1000 metres above sea level mark, it’s the clouds that provide much of the island’s water.

 

Anaga Mountains

 

The clouds are heavy with moisture which feeds the trees and plants and seeps into the ground. In order to extract the water, Tenerife is riddled with wells and ‘galleries’ – bore holes drilled into pockets of water below the surface and pumped through pipes to meet an estimated 80% of consumer needs on the island. Desalination plants in Santa Cruz and in the south help to supplement water needs, particularly for agriculture, and act as standby in times when drought threatens.

 

Erjos Pools

 

Although it’s wonderful to have plentiful supplies of water underground, what Tenerife lacks is the beauty of surface water which you find on other Canary Islands like the reservoirs of Gran Canaria and La Gomera and the waterfalls and streams of La Palma. On Tenerife, if you want to see standing water you have to visit the pools at Erjos in Santiago del Teide or at Tejina en route to Punta de Hidalgo. To see waterfalls you have to hike down one of the few remaining barrancos that still retains water year-round.

 

Barranco del Infierno

 

Once conduits for excess water flowing down from the mountains, even the barrancos are now mostly dry, except after heavy rains when they can be victims of flash flooding. One of the best known barrancos for seeing year-round water is the Barranco del Infierno, unfortunately still officially closed for the time being. A good substitute is the magnificent Masca Barranco where you’ll find permanent waterfalls, eddies and pools. Testament to the volume of water brought by the clouds is Barranco Afur where, despite its arid summer landscape, you can see water all year brought down from the Anaga peaks that surround it.

Posted : Wednesday, August 21st, 2013 at 9:26 am
Category : about tenerife
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2 Responses to “Finding Water on Tenerife”

    • Hi Sonja, I’m referring to the lake-like reservoirs that we have in the UK and that we see on La Gomera and Gran Canaria. You’re quite right that the water storage tanks here are referred to as ‘reservoirs’ but as far as I’m aware, they’re filled from pipes rather than rainfall – or have I got that wrong?

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