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Lagoa Câmara and exorbitant water bill

Dear Editor, Let me add our experience of the Lagoa authorities. December 2011 we received a water bill of €2,000 for September, October and November 2011 (small villa). There was no water irrigation and no leaks from any pipes or sanitation. No taps had been left running.

We contested this exorbitant bill and the guy with the monkey wrench promptly removed our water meter, i.e. cut our supply.  

Several trips to the Câmara and the Water Services met with a brick wall. It resembled a sketch from “Little Britain” – “the computer says ‘no’. December bill was €12 (normal) and in the summer months leading up to September, where irrigation was being used and there were visitors at the villa, the invoices for water did not exceed €30 per month, so proof of their error.

Our management company took cash to pay off the September bill on the due date. The Câmara refused this as fines had now increased the amount.

We requested to pay by instalment which was initially refused. Our request had to be put to a Committee which meets weekly. It was a totally degrading nightmare which they drew out for five weeks before they turned the water back on (against payment of course).

Telling them that we were pensioners and had no toilet facilities or water during the height of winter fell on deaf ears.

A water authorities’ employee told us that this situation was common practice in our area.  

Portugal is part of the European Community and as such, we fully intend exposing the affair to the competent authority in Brussels and will have no compunction in accusing the Câmara and Water Services of fraud and collusion.  

Everybody experiencing similar problems should do the same. As foreigners (who have given our custom to the Algarve since 1980), we are sitting ducks for extortion.