Staff Reporter
THE difference between amounts paid in water rates for domestic consumption in varying areas of the Balearics is as wide as 4.2 euros per cubic metre (700 old pesetas).

The lowest rates in the region are those paid in the district of Manacor where the water supply operating company, Aguas de Manacor, charges 0.21 euros per cubic metre of water (flat rate), without changing the price since 1988 and without applying a progressive penalty (of paying more per cubic metre, the more one consumes).

The second lowest rate can be found in Torre del Ram, in Ciutadella (Minorca) where 0.43 euros per cubic metre is charged.
At the other end of the scale, the dearest water (in terms of average domestic consumption) is supplied in Deya, 3.60 euros per cubic metre, and Andraitx, 2.60 euros. For years, Deya has suffered serious supply problems, which has resulted in the use of companies who provide water in tankers. Andraitx is totally dependent on Palma and Calvia as it doesn't possess sufficient volume to supply its residents and tourist population.

The most important municipalities present average tariffs for normal domestic consumption. Thus, in Palma, customers pay 0.67 euros per cubic metre if consumption wavers between 11 and 20 cubic metres, 1.08 euros between 21 and 40 cubic metres, and 2.4 euros if the consumption is even higher, between 41 and 80 cubic metres. The public company, Calvià 2000, charges 0.96 euros per cubic metre if consumption is between 15 and 45 cubic metres, and 1.77 euros if the demand for water is higher, between 45 and 75 cubic metres.

Other data to take into account is the number of water supply companies operating on municipal networks and private estates. Of the total of 68 in the Balearics, 44 are private. Also sufficient to draw attention is the number of companies exploiting wells for the sale of water, normally through the use of tankers. There are 132 of such organisations operating in the Balearics alone.

Water resource director, Alfredo Barón, claims that “the enormous variability of water rates in the Balearics is absurd. On top of that, different prices are stipulated within the same municipality. It's also worrying that some districts have gone years without adjusting tariffs, not even in terms of the cost of living index. Some town councils don't even want to consider putting up water rates because it's an unpopular measure but the years go by and the tariffs no longer link correctly to the cost of water supply. They end up not even covering maintenance charges.”

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