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DEAR SIR

HAVING recently uncovered what appears to be a bureaucratic absurdity perpetrated by Aqualia, our local water supply company in the Soller valley, concessionaires of the local ajuntamiento, I wonder if any of your readers might have had similar experiences in other parts of the island. About three years ago, the town's water engineer invited a group of residents – nine in all - in the rural part of Soller to a meeting at the town hall, at which he outlined a project to link us to the town's sewage network. It was explained that the town would fund the connection to the existing mains pipe in the road, and a short distance in the direction of our group of properties, but the cost of a communal pipeline, and individual connections to that communal pipe would have to be borne by the residents themselves. It followed that the more who joined in, the lower the individual cost. Despite the fact that I have a modern, and legal, septic tank, it seemed a reasonable proposition, and good for the environment and a neighbourly thing to do.

There would be three stages in the project: the first the town's short connection, completed in June 2009, secondly a communal pipeline into the heart of the group of properties, only completed in July last year, and then the individual links, as and when. Having paid nearly €3000 as our contribution to the second stage, I am now seeking quotes for our own final connection, which I hope to have completed this year.

However, the water company has, since September 2009, been unilaterally charging me, without advance or official written notification, not just for town water, to which we have always been connected, but also for agua sucia which in effect doubles the quarterly cost. What goes in, must go out as they say! Having written to the company to object to such practice, that we were not yet enjoying the dirty water service, how could they possible charge us, since in no way could we have been connected till last July at the earliest, and as things can move slowly in Spain (part of the charm), it would be some months yet before our own connection could be made. (There is only one contractor in Soller who has the equipment for the work). I also pointed out that this practice, timed to coincide with the completion of their initial and small part of the project, was never explained at the outset. A clear case of false pretences? Had such a practice been intimated at the outset, then I would have preferred not to be a good neighbour, and remained independent with my own facility. Alternatively, I would have suggested that the water company should leave their final connection to the last when all the properties had had time to organise and pay for their part of the pipe network. This work has been complicated because of access and land ownership, and has taken time.

Aqualia's reply, polite but typically bureaucratic, points out that they can quote an Ordinanza of 1995 which allows them to start charging, once their work is completed, even though a service is not available to the customer. One wonders how such unjust policies can be allowed to persist. It is obviously an outmoded, anti-democratic law designed to undermine individual rights, and help fund a vastly bloated public sector.

It does make you wonder about the mind sets of those who frame such laws, and of those who hide behind them, and whether any of them consider the effects they might have. I look forward to any comments from others with similar stories to relate, and particularly if they know of any available redress.

Yours faithfully,

A. Stewart, Soller