A British expat has revealed her shock after being hammered with £64,000 (€74,000) in water bills.
Gillian Hodge said she completely ‘panicked’ and is now suffering from extreme stress.
The retired pharmacist, who lives with husband Tom between Spain and Scotland, received two eye-watering bills from La Viñuela town hall.
“I couldn’t believe it at first when I saw I owed €73,640,” says Gillian (66).
‘I just felt pure panic. Ever since I saw the bill last month, I’ve been overwhelmed with stress.’
The total includes two major demands, one for the third quarter of 2022 for €28,420 and the other for the second quarter of 2023, rising to as much as €45,220.
Gillian Hodge (pictured with husband Tom) said she completely ‘freaked out’ and is now suffering from extreme stress
Gillian’s property. She received two eye-catching bills from the town hall of La Viñuela
Gilian is a retired pharmacist who lives between Spain and Scotland with her husband Tom
La Viñuela, a municipality in the province of Málaga in southern Spain that is popular with British expats
Incredibly, the two interim quarters were only €15.48 and €14.18 respectively.
The town hall, which manages the water, claims her three-bedroom home used 2.6 million cubic liters in the combined 180-day period – enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool – or 601 liters per hour.
‘They told my manager that we had a leak in July, but it was fixed immediately. This leak would have had to have been huge and we weren’t even using the house at the time.
‘Moreover, we are looking out on rural areas that are bone dry. With so much water leaking away, you would think that our country would be flourishing and green, but that is not the case.’
Gillian is not allowed to pay only part of the bill and obviously cannot pay the bill in full. Gillian is stunned.
“I don’t refuse to pay for the water. We simply refuse to pay €70,000. We don’t have the money and even if we did it’s still completely wrong.’
Meanwhile, her British neighbor, Lee Talbot, 60, has been forced to hire lawyers after receiving a bill for €43,000.
The Kent property developer has appealed against the ‘crazy’ bill for his six-bedroom home, which overlooks the Viñuela Reservoir.
He said the town hall attorney suggested someone stole his water.
‘I laughed and said, ‘Really? Is this a joke?’ But he confirmed that I had apparently used more water than the entire village combined.’
Lee Talbot, 60, has been forced to hire lawyers after receiving a bill for €43,000
Talbot, a property developer from Kent, has appealed against the ‘crazy’ bill imposed on his six-bedroom home overlooking the Viñuela Reservoir
Many residents have complained that they have not even been able to pause their accounts while the situation is under discussion
Talbot, owner of Marbella’s LT Construction, which employs 30 people, hired an engineering expert to inspect his property.
He came back and told him absolutely that there was ‘no leak’ nor any water theft.
It is believed there are at least three more people with life-changing five-figure bills.
Another 20 people – the majority British expats – have ended up with thousands of bills.
And more than 100 residents are also recovering from bills that have skyrocketed over the past quarter.
Three Spanish residents also become involved in the fiasco.
One resident, Paul Rouse, claimed his bank manager told him about a woman who had died years ago and received a bill for €1,500.
Many residents have complained that they have not even been able to pause their accounts while the situation is under discussion.
Councilor Amber Crookshank said an investigation has been launched and the meters have now been sent for testing to ensure they are properly calibrated
The suspicion naturally fell on the water meters.
Some residents believe air is entering the water pipes, causing the meters to spin wildly and inflate consumption, literally paying for air.
Councilor Amber Crookshank said an investigation has been launched and the meters have now been sent for testing to ensure they are properly calibrated.
And the British expat admitted that the town hall ‘didn’t understand the problem’.
“I’m frustrated because something needs to be done to figure out what’s going on and why people are getting these impossible bills.”
Another 20 people – the majority British expats – have ended up with thousands of bills
Her colleague Moises Cerrado later admitted that water theft was “a big problem” in the area.
“Many of the residents don’t live in their properties and don’t know what’s happening while they’re away,” he said.
He expected results within four weeks, but added there were “no guarantees” residents will be satisfied. “We are in the middle of an extreme drought and some have used enormous amounts of water,” he explained. ‘The new rates are intended to punish this waste.’
And he confirmed that the problem is not just affecting British residents, with some Spaniards and ‘also Belgians’ receiving high bills. ‘The water meters do not understand nationality and we try to help all our residents.’