living in Spain

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Water in the Campo is not as simple as you might be used to in other parts of E.U.

There are several ways of getting water to your house

You can collect rainwater by directing roof gutters to a large tank (called a Deposito). For practical purposes a tank should be at least 10 cubic meters.

You can also buy water privately. This is delivered by tanker to your house and your tank (deposito) is filled. This has some disadvantages the main one being the cost, it is very expensive, around 10 Euros per cubic meter. You also have to check that there is enough room in your tank to hold a full load. It is most annoying when your tank starts to overflow and the rest of the load flows down the mountainside at 10 Euros a cubic meter.

There is also the old method of supplying water in the country called Agricultural Water. This was originally for irrigating large areas of farmland. It is very cheap but hard to get!! First you have to have a contract, which means owning a share in the water Company. These are as valuable as gold dust and, if you’re lucky, you may find someone wanting to sell their share. Agricultural water is supplied in specific volumes according to your contract on certain days a week. It means having a large storage tank, because the water is usually high-pressure and you need to keep a good supply in your tank. It is not purified to the standards of normal domestic water . and you should check, whether you need to fit water filters for domestic use. The cost of a water share is currently around eight thousand to ten thousand Euros. Another quirk of the system is that the contract is with the land, not you and you’re not allowed to sell water on to your neighbours! The cost of this water in my area is aroung 17 cents (yes, I said CENTS!!) a cubic meter. If your house or land has an agricultural water contract, you are very lucky, and it is well worth it!

The most common way is to join your local mains water system This means applying to, your Town Hall, and will usually involve an installation charge for fitting the meter and a sliding scale of charges according to how much you use. In general terms, the first 40 cubic meters per quarter will cost one Euro per cubic meter and above that, an astonishing five Euros per cubic meter! There are also many regulations governing town water supplies, some of them being, you cannot use it for irrigation or watering your garden. This includes filling swimming pools, and even just topping them up. Other things that we have heard of it is from from people who live on hilltops. Sometimes, the pressure of the water system can be so low that it fails to reach them. You should still have a storage tank because the water is often shut off. A good-sized tank will mean that you will still have water for a few days. Other times the water may just be turned off for a short while, and, if you have a storage tank, you l will not notice it. If you are using your local cool mains water supply read the meter carefully about once a week and keep a log of your usage. You can then calculate when you are approaching the expensive 50 cubic meter rate. If there are just two or three people living in a house . then it is easy to stay in the cheaper zone. When we have guests in the summer, we have had bills as high as 400 Euros.

Another problem with Town water that we have encountered is high pressure. Some times the pressure can go very high – high enough to burst a weak pipe or break a fitting. On one occaision the pressure even broke the meter. If you are leaving your house unattended, as we did one Christmas holiday, you may come home to a burst pipe and a large water bill!!  The best way round this is to fit a reduction valve before the meter and make sure that the pipes and fittings used are strong enough to cope with the peaks in pressure. It doesn´t cost a lot and can save you money in the long run.

The best solution to the water problem, if you live in the country, is to have your own well. This means hiring a drilling team to find a suitable place to drill, and then they spend two or three days drilling the well. It makes a lot of mess!

You then need an electrician to install a special well pump, electronic control panel and wiring to your house. Of course, the house wiring needs to be capable of handling the extra power needed to drive the well pump.  It is not unusual for the builder to have installed wiring that won´t handle the loads required and subsequent voltage drops can cause the pump to malfunction.

The pump is fed down to the bottom of the well, which can be 200 m deep, and water is pumped into your storage tank. This is by far the most convenient way of getting water. It does have a high installation cost from 7,000 Euros up wards but this does give you a carefree, totally automatic water supply. Of course, it is dependent upon the drilling team finding a suitable supply of water and being able to connect up to your storage tank. You also need a licence to drill a well, obtainable from the Ministry of Mines, which costs 800 Euros.

Be careful with water, use it wisely


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