A warning was issued yesterday in Palma by the Balearic Association of Drinking Water Suppliers (Asaib) that around 1'000 jobs are at risk because of the regional government having forced up prices to what it described as “unfeasible” levels.

Asaib President Ventura Rubí and Managing Director Felio Bauza explained that more than 60 companies in the Balearics could close as a result of the Balearic Water and Environmental Quality Agency (Abaqua) having compelled them to buy water at a price in excess of the amount that is billed to their customers.

Rubí and Bauza claimed that Asaib members are now having to buy desalinated water at a cost of 1.17 euros per cubic metre whilst they are only charging their customers 0.56 euros per cubic metre.

Both men said that the government action has meant that companies of some towns and villages in the Balearics are now having to pay between three or four times more to purchase water and that in others, costs to the suppliers have been backdated to the start of 2010, enabling Abaqua to “rake in” an additional 12.5 percent.

Asaib said that variances in purchase price across the Islands are without any unifying foundation. Many companies won't survive, Rubí and Bauza said. “We can't suddenly start proportionally charging our clients with this massive increase and neither can we suddenly cut off such an essential service.” They said that over the past two years, Abaqua has been signing agreements with town councils in the Baleaircs, forcing the local authority to buy certain quantities of water at pre-stipulated prices. “We are being used to resolve the government's financial problems,” the men claimed.