Pleno meeting promises clean water for San Miguel

After seven years of fighting it would seem that the residents of San Miguel de Salinas will finally have fresh, clean water in their homes

Following on from a recent article featured in the EWN, regarding the absence of potable water in the San Miguel de Salinas urbanizations of El Galan, Blue Lagoon and Eagles Nest, residents have finally received news that progress is being made.

The water, which has historically been provided by ERNA and supplies some 3000 homes, has been a cause for debate for over seven years, due to not only long spells of cuts in the service but also more importantly, the fact that the Government declared it “unfit for human consumption”, several years ago.

This announcement led to tests being ordered by the Valencian Parliament, and conducted by the School of Pharmacists of Alicante, which found that the water was contaminated by nitrates and contained more than four grams of salt per litre, surpassing the normal and acceptable levels of oxidizability and conductivity” for a household water supply. This they considered was caused as a result of the antiquated wells being used by ERNA.

All of this came as a result of a lengthy campaign championed by opposition parties such as EU, alongside of Residents Committees, business and homeowners living in the affected zone, who assumed that with this evidence something would have to be done. Wrong! And so, the group continued to lobby Parliament, eventually taking their arguments as far as the European Union.

In June 2010, the Petitions Committee reported to the EU Parliament the onset of an infringement procedure against Spain for breach of the Water Directive in the urbanizations of San Miguel, which stimulated some movement locally, and in February of this year, the town’s Planning Officer, Sergio Correas, suggested that they would soon be taking action to rectify the situation.

The majority of residents living in the zone were delighted with the news, although some objection was made by some of those living in the main town, including the Neighbourhood Association Archangel, fronted by Manuel Gomez, who surmised that the global cost of the project and anticipated rise in water costs, which he claimed could be as much as 500%, would be swallowed by everyone living and paying tax in San Miguel, also complaining that the decision to upgrade the water supply had been taken in secret to avoid such objections by taxpayers.

Councillor Correas dismissed these claims, explaining that the current pipe-work is old and decayed and must be replaced, which would take up the bulk of the budget allocated, but that much of this would be funded through the European Union via the Generalitat, and would not adversely affect taxpayers.

Eventually, after continued delays in progress, a planning meeting was held at San Miguel Town Hall to discuss the future of the water supply, and plans for the new system were approved.

A unanimous decision was passed to re-classify the land allocated to the works, whilst it was announced that an extraordinary ‘pleno’ meeting will be held on September 23 when Council members will examine tenders offered by 3 companies competing for the contract to supply water to the entire town in the most efficient and economical way. The Mayor, Angel Saez Huertas, explained that the clean water will be derived from two areas: the desalination plant in San Pedro del Pinatar and also from the urban centre of San Miguel.

The project will entail linking the water pipes leading from the Murcian desalination plant to a stretch of pipes measuring 500m, which will supply properties with potable water. He once again assured that there would be no significant price hike as a result of the new system, also denying claims made in the Spanish press that the new water company would be a private entity.

Instead he claimed that they would work closely alongside of the Town Hall to provide the best possible service to the people. Finally, the Mayor was keen to point out that all residents living in San Miguel de Salinas must be registered on the Municipal Padron before they will be allowed to transfer to the new water company, so advised people to register at the Town Hall as soon as possible if they have not already done so. 

In spite of all of the latest promises, the residents themselves say that “We have heard it all before” and take the attitude that “seeing is believing”. Carol Sear, President of Miramar and Monterray community, in El Galan, and member of the Peoples Liaison Group (PLG), whose personal experiences of the inadequate water supply were previously documented in the EWN, commented that “We are told that another meeting is to take place on September 23, but not when work is due to commence.

When we actually see something being done then my neighbours and I will see cause for celebration. I do not wish to sound negative, but having lived without proper water for so long it is simply a case of “Watch This Space”, as far as I am concerned!”

By Heidi Wardman

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