Jim Ryder, who lives on our estate, called at my house yesterday to pass on this tale so that others may benefit from his shocking and expensive experience.
In February Jim found that he had no water to his house. Since this is a relatively common occurrence here, he wasn’t unduly concerned. However, after a couple of hours he checked with his neighbour who told him that his water supply was fine.
The next day, Jim went out to the box in the street to find a note from the water company telling him there was a leak somewhere on his property. To stop any further loss, they had turned his water off. Turning it back on confirmed the diagnosis, the meter was spinning as Jim says “like a propeller blade”. This was a mystery because there was no signs of a water leak anywhere in his property and the pressure in the house seemed fine.
Jim therefore called out a builder who was able to detect the leak 600mm beneath the paving stones just inside his property. With the leak repaired, he was able to turn the water back on. However, it was three days later that the real shocker came with a water bill of 6,730.67 euros for a total of 2,483 cubic metres of water that had been lost. To put this into perspective, that amount of water would fill almost 52 8x4m swimming pools at an average cost of 2.71 euros per cubic metre*.
Jim emailed the company but received no reply. He then went to their offices in Orihuela several times and even showed them proof that he wasn’t in Spain when the problem occurred. After much pleading, they finally agreed to reduce the bill to 4,264 euros which they said he must pay.
Jim has asked me to pass on his story, not in an attempt to garner sympathy but rather as a cautionary tale to others to check their water meters and to turn the water off OUTSIDE the property if they are going to be away for any length of time. As Jim says, it would be better if the water board supplied us with the triangular key needed to open the box to do this but you can still manage it with a pair of fine nose pliers.
The other twist to the tale is, because Jim had originally stopped the payment of the bill from his bank, he would have been placed on a bad debtors list. Since he has now agreed to pay the reduced amount, his name will be removed from that list.
*In Spain, the more water you consume, the higher the charge per cubic metre you pay.