Water Connection in Andalucía
Historically in Andalucía many local town halls charged a fixed annual fee for water usage. This practice was particularly prevalent in the more rural communities whereby landowners would pay a nominal amount for “rural” water, depending on the amount of land owned, alongside a set domestic rate for water into their residential properties. The rate would be set locally and would vary from area to area.
However, new Junta de Andalucía legislation currently being passed will mean that not only will consumers soon have to cover the full cost of taking water into their homes, but also that the price of water will be the same all over Andalucía. This new legislation will not only affect householders; farmers and landowners will be charged for actual usage instead of for the surface area they have to irrigate.
The European Water Framework Directive (approved in 2000) states that all the income from water bills should be invested back into projects to improve water-related infrastructure and sewage treatment for recycling, and requires that, with effect from 2010, the principle of full cost recovery is applied. To this end, information on the rates currently applicable in each area is being compiled and studied by the Water Observatory Committee. Based in Málaga, this committee will be responsible for improving the technical conditions for water usage and establishing the tariffs to be charged by service providers.
At local level a plan of installing water meters in homes and plots of land that do not have them is currently underway, in readiness for the passing of the law, which is expected to happen by the end of 2009.
The new tariffs will be designed to encourage the responsible use of water and to penalise abusive consumption with the suggested tariffs for domestic use to be made up of a fixed rate of €1 per user per month, coupled with a variable rate of between 0,10 and 0,40 euros per month per cubic metre used, depending on the level of consumption. This variable will be based on the number of people living in a household. The rate for the agriculture and other industry sectors will be set a rate of 0.25 euros per cubic metre used. Part of the bill will cover the general upkeep of drainage, sewers, etc.
For new property owners signing a contract for a water supply is fairly straightforward. The local company supplying your area will have an agreement with the town hall to do so. If you have not received details from the seller regarding the water company contact the town hall and they will be able to assist.
Once you know the company concerned, the best thing is to go along to their offices to sign a contract and arrange future payments for the water supply. You will normally be required to provide the following:
• Photocopy of the title deed (Escritura) of the property in your name.
• Photocopy of your passport or NIE number.
• Your bank details in order that the bills can be paid directly from your bank account.
In recent years, Andalucía has experienced a fair amount of rain during the winter months and has therefore not suffered from a serious water shortage in summer. Having said that, problems with water supply can and still do occur, particularly along the coastal resorts when demand increases considerably as visitors arrive in hotels and holiday homes during high season. On occasion you might find that the water supply has been turned off for a few hours, which although frustrating, is a necessary evil to conserve levels. The answer? Relax, pick up a book and be patient. Normal service is always soon resumed.