Utilities - Water Companies
By Dee McMath
If you take up residence or buy a property in Andalucia, amongst other services you will obviously need a water supply to your property. In a country where drought is not unknown, the issue of water is taken seriously.
The normal way forward is to sign a contract with a local company, which will probably have an agreement with the local Town Hall. In most towns it is a monopoly consession. If you have bought a property, the seller will have supplied you with the most recent bills paid to the utilities company and so you will know which one to contact. If in doubt, you can always ask at the local Town Hall. Once you know the company concerned, the best thing is to go along to their offices to sign a contract and arrange future payments for the water supply. You will normally be required to provide the following:
- Photocopy of the title deed (Escritura) of the property in your name.
- Photocopy of your passport or Spanish ID card (or NIE)
- Official Water installation Certificate (Boletin del agua) that a certified plumber will obtain when he checks all the installations.
- The contract fee (likely to be approximately 150 - 200 Euros)
- Your bank details so that the bills can be paid through your bank account
In the case of a property which belongs to a community, there may also be payments to be made to a further company for the maintenance of a community well (which is also quite common in Andalucia). Although this adds a little more cost to your annual water bills, in times of serious water restriction, communities with their own water supply often have water, when other homes are affected by water cuts which have been known to occur. If there is a payment to another company which works with your community of owners, find out if it is a fixed sum or if water meters are used.
The amount for both of the above types of water payment will depend on the area you are in and the amount of water you use. Part of the bill which you will pay through the company working with the Town Hall will be for the general upkeep of drainage, sewers, etc.
If you live in the countryside rather than a town or built up area, there may be some special water regulations. Where there is land with fruit trees or other crops to be tended, there are special irrigation channels called 'acequias'. The 'acequias' have a gate system and the Town Hall lays down a strict system of right to water access. The water rights were drawn up in ancient times and to this day are taken very seriously. If you do opt for living in the country and have land or orchards using irrigation systems, the best thing would be to go along to the local Town Hall to ask for more information. It is always advisable to stick to the country code. If you have a problem with the language, especially in a more rural community, it would be best to take a translator with you to make sure it is as crystal clear as the water itself!
Andalucia has generally seen sufficuent rain during the winter months and has therefore not suffered from serious water shortage in summer. However since 2022 problems with water supply have occured, especially along the coastal resorts the demand increases drastically in the summer and in areas where local farming irrigation has consummed reservior water.
During the years 1995 to 2000 there was very little rainfall and there were water restrictions all over Andalucia and especially on the Costa del Sol. With this in mind, many in rural area drilled water wells. More about Water Wells. Marbella constructed a desalination water plant after the 1994 drought and this was never needed until 2021. Other municipalities such as Estepona are cominishing a desalination plant however it will take five years to come on line. Measure that are being undertaken since 2020 are projects that centre around the use of recycled water for farming and golf courses and municipal (viveros) plant nurseries and municipal ornamental gardents.