THE Chairwoman of the water board EMAYA, Maria Crespo, defended the decision to increase water rates, explaining that the company has to raise the funds to cover the costs of the mobile desalination units. Households in Palma will be paying an extra 317 pesetas a month as EMAYA tries to raise the 1'000 million pesetas it has to pay in order to bring the desalination units into operation as part of the government's plan to beat the affects of the drought. Crespo, in the face of heavy criticism over the water rate hike, said that the increase will mean Palma residents will have to pay an extra 3'804 pesetas per year. The chairwoman of the water board apportioned part of the blame on the Balearic Minister for the Environment, Margalida Rossello, who last month made EMAYA agree to covering half the costs of the total investment which is around 1'300 million pesetas. As part of the deal, EMAYA has to also buy 8 million cubic litres of water from the mobile desalination units per year for the next six years which will cost the water board an extra 300 million peseta per year. However, Crespo admitted that EMAYA had little choice but to sign the agreement in order to try and recuperate natural resources and provide the island with a guaranteed water supply. During the first five months of this year, 4.9 million cubic metres of water was consumed, well over the forecast for the year which was three million.