GALASA, our local supplier of (somewhat murky) tap water, has announced that if the townhall of Albox does not pay it’s outstanding bill it will cut all supplies to the town (domestic, industrial, agricultural… the lot).
The dispute stems from the old arrangement, initially setup by the ex-mayor Francisco Granero [P.P. party], who used a company called “GESTAGUA” to buy the water in bulk and then distribute it to the town. Invoicing and local distribution was taken care of by GESTAGUA, but the water was piped in by GALASA.
The trouble seems to be that GESTAGUA lost a lot of the water through leaks, and didn’t collect on a lot of bills due to faulty invoicing, bad management and (probably) hands in the till (not least that of Francisco, according to dark murmerings from certain sources). Due to this a rather large bill (amount not disclosed) has accumulated.
Normally in Spain these sorts of things carry on quite happily, as local and regional government back the debt so the companies just keep on refinancing and everybody is happy. However, the new Town Hall team have announced that they have finished the contract with GALASA, intend to find another supplier for water (mainly from local mountains and aquifers), will improve GESTAGUA and do not intend to pay the back bill. Their reasoning is that since the end user has already paid GESTAGUA for the water used, the town hall should not pay GALASA with taxes as this would amount to double billing, illegal under Spanish law.
Understandably, GALASA is Not Happy. They have given Albox town hall until tomorrow to pay the bill or find a solution, or they will cut off water supplies. This reaction seems to have surprised the town hall – a spokesman told La Voz de Almería that if the water is cut off they will take this “to the Junta de Andalucía, to central Government, to the President, and to the VicePresident of the regional Diputación to guarantee this service to the villagers of Albox”. He then went on to call the GALASA move “draconian”, “pasota irrespectuosa” (disrespectful and ignorant), and “contrary to Albox”. Strong stuff.
If the water is cutoff, nobody is quite sure what will happen. The best guess seems to be that quite a lot of gunk is going to come out of the taps as substandard water is connected to the domestic supply. While in theory the water cannot be cutoff to domestic users (especially as they have paid all the bills!), GALASA points out that they are supplying a company (GESTAGUA), so it is up to GESTAGUA to guarantee the domestic supply, not them. Most probably some underhand political deal will allow the current mayor to come up smelling of roses.
So let us know what happens tomorrow, Alboxians!