By LIZ GRIFFITHS [email protected]
Irrigation experts have cast doubt on a council’s claim that excessive water bills are due to people using too much water on their gardens.
The Algarve Resident spoke with several specialists after Aljezur Câmara said water irrigation systems were one of the main reasons for the high water bills received by residents in the Vale da Telha area over the summer period.
A spokesman from Aljezur Câmara said that residents should expect to receive higher water bills if there were problems with water irrigation systems and if they are being left on for too long.
Michael Turner of Vilar Do Jardim Lda told the Algarve Resident: “It depends on the size of the owner’s garden as to how high water bills should be during the summer. People can pay up to 400 to 500 euros.”
He added: “I would advise people to reduce their watering times during the summer months to cut the cost.”
Pedro Silva, a freelance landscape gardener based in Lagos, said: “Water bills that are in the thousands cannot be blamed on people’s water irrigation systems. The highest they should expect to pay is no more than 600 euros during the summer months.”
He added: “The only possibility would be if there was a leak or if they were left on constantly, otherwise there has to be another reason.”
Meanwhile, there have been more cases of excessive water bills across the Algarve.
Resident Desmond Briggs, who lives in Carvoeiro, was shocked to receive an excessive water bill for the month of July.
“In July my water bill was five times higher than the same time last year and was ridiculously excessive. I checked the reading on the bill against the meter and found that the reading was totally wrong,” he said.
“I went to Lagoa Câmara and informed them of the problem. They re-checked the meter and then contacted me, telling me to cancel the payment.”
Desmond Briggs was then told by the bank that the direct debit could not be cancelled but he would be fully reimbursed and informed by the Câmara that a minimum payment had to be made by hand.
“Although it was their problem, I had to do all the running around to sort it out,” he said. “If I had not been in the country, the bill would have been paid without question.”
Another resident, who lives in Lagos and asked not to be named, told the Algarve Resident about his experience of receiving high water bills.
“For the month of August 2004 we received an anomalous water bill that was more than previous years. The Câmara’s response was that the meter had an intermittent fault and then readings returned to normal,” he said.
“The following year, in August, we had another reading almost exactly 100m3 higher. Because we live here and keep records of a leak or extra usage, this was impossible.
“We had the meter checked. It had no fault and the Câmara’s engineer found no evidence of leaks.”
Michael Turner said that residents can check for possible leaks by shutting everything off then seeing if the water meter is still going round. “People can also check that the meter is reading correctly by taking a reading, then filling a known volume with water before reading the meter again to confirm if that amount has passed through it,” he added.
No-one from Lagos Câmara was available for comment at the time the Algarve Resident went to press on Wednesday.
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