Expat couple in water bill shock

A BRITISH couple resident in the Costa Blanca accustomed to quarterly water bills of €100 were faced with one of €12,000.

One day in December Mr. and Mrs. E, of El Poblets in Denia had a ring on their doorbell.

It was the Aqualia man who had just read their metres.

They went outside and he showed them that one of their two metres (domestic use and luxury use, i.e. watering garden, swimming pool, outside shower), and the luxury use metre was whizzing around.

Water was being lost at an alarming rate.

When the man called his office to see what the previous reading was, he then did a calculation, and said that since the last September reading, over 4,000 cubic metres of water had been used. When they were told the price, they couldn’t believe it: €12,000. Subsequently the bill has been lowered to €5,500. This is a legal dispensation where in such obvious unfortunate instances the water bill can be charged at the lowest possible rate.

And the bill had to be paid in three months. The head of Aqualia was very understanding, they said, but his hands “were tied.” No payment, and the water would be cut off: that is the law, he warned.

The Mayor of Denia got involved, and tried his best to help. Now Mr. and Mrs. E have 12 months to meet the payments. They wanted two years.

But the law is the law, and no one could help any more.

The couple, even with their plight, are keen that such an unnecessary horror story doesn’t repeat itself with other unsuspecting home owners.

They have lived in Spain for eight years, and have had no problems until last December. They weren’t aware that such a thing could happen, and the things to note to avoid this happening to you are these;

1. Check your metre REGULARLY.

A leak can occur at any time. If a leak occurs YOU are responsible for the loss i.e. the bill. MR. E advises that you should check your metre at least weekly, and report any unusual metre activity immediately.

He had no indication that there was any leak. There was no sign of water in his garden. He had no way of knowing that he was consuming water at a cost of €1,000 a week.

He now knows he should have checked his metre regularly.

2. Do not assume that because you have insurance that it will cover such a loss. It won’t. Insurance might cover “damage” cause by leaks etc, but not the cost of the leak itself. i.e. not the water bill.

3. If you can’t access your metre box, find a tool that can open it for you. They vary, but are not complicated, and you are entitled to see your metre – and check your readings as and when you want.

4. Check you can turn of your water. A friend of Mr. E was going on holiday after this all came to light. He noticed had a slight leak in his pool room so wanted to turn off the water before he left.

He couldn’t; the tap was stuck solid. Aqualia changed the stopcock for him but if he’d left it to the last day before checking it would have been too late to turn off his water before he left for the U.K.

Follow the above advice , and it might help you avoid the nightmare scenario of Mr. and Mrs. E.

By Paul Deed
[email protected]

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