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Spain - Water

When someone sells a house in Spain they must supply the buyer with the most recent water bills. They will need this in order to get the water reconnected when they take possession of the property. Along with the previous bills they will also need several other documents including a copy of the rental contract for the property or if the property is bought then a photocopy of the property deeds. Identification will also be needed, a passport is the most common form used but other photo identification may be acceptable. Bank account details will need to be supplied to the water company if paying the bills via standing order. This is a common way to pay for those who are not staying the property all year round. The payment of the contract fee must also be paid prior to the water being connected. Anyone who will not be using their property all year round should; also be aware of the fact that there is often a quarterly minimum consumption charge (canon de consumo) of around €10.00.

Water shortages in Spain are constant and as such in certain areas there may be restrictions set on the consumption. The more southern areas of Spain and the outlying Islands of the canaries and Balearics are the worst areas affected. Desalination plants and water purification plants are used to keep up a fresh supply of water as much as possible in these areas but it is wise to use any water at your property sparingly. Summer season in these areas are the worst times, not only due to the continual hot weather and lack of rainfall but also because of the massive influx of tourists over the summer months means that the little water available has to go a lot further. Cracked and leaky water pipes and lack of water conservation plans account for around 25% of water wastage in Spain. Spain has the highest water consumption per person of the whole of the European countries and due to the shortages many rural homes only have access to tap water for a couple of hours a day in the summer months. Farmers struggle to tend to crops due to the water shortage and often face ruin as a result. An increase in water charges means people are now becoming more aware of how much water they are using and therefore are starting to learn how to use less. In many homes the water is supplied by pump. This means in times of electrical fault due to power cuts or maintenance works then the water supply is also lost. Water can sometimes be delivered by tanker, this is true for many rural homes that do not have a mains supply of water and instead they have a water tank that gets filled upon request. Water is charged per litre and there will also be a delivery charge on top of that.

Spanish water quality is poor. It is supposed to be safe enough to drink but the unappealing colour (often tinted a rust colour) or the unusual taste will put many people off drinking from the tap as they can in the UK. Some areas may be lucky enough to have access to fresh spring water which will have a much cleaner taste, however this can be tainted with nitrates or fertilizers used on nearby farms, or by salt from coastal regions. Boiling water will not solve this issue and installing water filters may not be cost effective as they are known to waste a great amount of water. Water varies on hardness depending on which area of Spain your home is situated, and a water softener in the hard water areas will help to reduce the build-up of scale. If your home has a water softener system then it is very important that the drinking water to the home is on a separate supply.

Before buying or renting a property it is worth asking the neighbours about their water supply. They can advise you on whether water shortages are frequent in the area and also how reliable the water supply is. Often properties managed by the developer can have higher water costs, sometimes several times higher than the actual cost of the water. This can be an issue for those who are not living in the property full time as the minimum water charge will then be much higher. In effect the property owner will be paying high water costs when no water has actually been used.

Properties can save on water costs by having their own wells. Hiring a dowser is a popular way to find water on your properties land and building a well to supply your home with its own water is an excellent long term investment. However, in the summer months even these wells can run dry. Some homes have water storage tanks. They can collect rain water to be used later. They can be positioned on roof tops or even underground. They can be simple to use, for example with a tap located near to the bottom of the tank or with a pump that feeds water into the house. Many people sue these storage tanks to wash dishes or to flush the toilet. They are ideal for watering gardens and are a very cost effective way to have a water supply at the home.

Having a supply of hot water to the home will require a boiler. These can be powered either electrically or by bottled gas. The gas powered boilers are often more expensive both to buy and fit, but the running costs are low compared to the electric versions. You must ensure your boiler will be able to supply enough water for the whole family. A single person or couple will find the smaller, cheaper boilers are adequate; however they will not be suitable for larger families. Many people are now also opting for the more eco-friendly solar powered boilers, which supplies plenty of hot water throughout the summer months. Those in the southern, sunnier regions of Spain will find that solar powered boilers are often still able to produce enough power to heat the water in the winter months while northern wetter areas may need to opt of a combination version that perhaps can be powered electrically in the winter time.

Connection of water can be costly in rural areas, particularly if the water in the area is distributed by a private company. These costs can be anywhere between €75 and €1500. It is standard practice to still charge for the water even if there has been cuts or shortages to the service. The minimum usage charge will also still apply. The quarterly charge (canon de servicio) can also include a charge for water purification and higher rates are common to those who have water supplied by private companies rather than the municipality. Mistakes with water bills are common and it is wise to check each bill when it arrives to ensure you have only been charged for your usage. Comparing the bill reading with your meter reading will ensure that there has been no overcharging which is a common occurrence.

In some areas the water supply is controlled by the local authorities but there are also private companies in operation in some parts of Spain such as Agbar and Canal de Isabel II.

Useful Resources

Tel: + 34 933 422 000

Canal de Isabel II

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