MALAGA’S Mayor, Francisco de la Torre, has said Emasa water bills will rise to meet the costs of a €130.7 million bill to improve the city’s water supply and sanitation works.
The mayor explained “there is no other way out,” after it emerged no European funds were available to pick up the tab, before saying he had asked opposing political parties to use “strategic vision” and help approve the measure after claims party Ciudadnos was “sharply against” the proposal.”
De la Torre added once the measure was passed, “residents will be informed about what works will be done and when they would begin.”He explained if prices were raised they would be done so incrementally over a period of 20 years, eventually reaching around 20 cents per cubic metre of water. A similar system was put in place between 1992 and 2009 when bills were raised to finance 136 infrastructure projects.
The news comes after it emerged 123 families in Benajarafe’s La Esperanza urbanisation face having their water supply cut off after refusing to pay a €45,000 bill.
The private estate, which is sixty years old, receives a monthly water bill of around €10,000, over four times higher than elsewhere in the municipality of Velez Malaga. Residents say the exorbitant rates are due to the poor condition of their water network, with up to seventy-five per cent of water being lost to leaks and illegal connections.
They claim Aqualia refuse to pay for the necessary repair work because the community is privately owned, leaving residents to pick up the bill. Locals say they have asked the council for permission to carry out only the essential works, which would cost residents around €60,000, but were refused. The say the council has instead insisted the whole network must be replaced, costing between €2.5 million and €3 million.
The dispute has led to an impasse, with residents refusing to pay the full amount of their bills, owing Aqualia €38,000 of a €45,000 bill and risking having their water cut off again, as it was for five days in June and for three months in 2011.
For its part, the council says because the urbanisation is “private” it should cover the costs of the work “entirely,” while Aqualia claims it has been working to resolve the problem, “proposing various solutions and even offering to finance the works.” The company further claims of the €58,300 billed since July 2016, only €13,296 has been paid, “which means in almost a year each family paid less than €10 per month.”
The community’s residents feel their right are being violated however, with one, who wished to remain anonymous, telling a media outlet, “these residents pay the same IBI and waste rates as everyone else in Velez Malaga but we do not have the same rights.”