RE: Homeowners take a stand against “illegal” water charges

Dear Editor,

Well done to the homeowners in the developments around Vale do Lobo who are turning the tables on Infralobo, the municipal company who appears also to conduct their own “infrastructure laws” within estates in and around the area of Vale do Lobo.

The estate where our villa is located is in Dunas Douradas, near the same area as the residents from Vale do Garrão, Quinta Jacintina and Villa Alvas.

Infralobo took over the infrastructure on our estate including the water supply approximately five years ago. Since then we have suffered extortionate water charges and there is only my husband and me who live in the villa.

In brief, last year towards the end of May, the water pressures at our property almost ceased and the water was reduced to a trickle. In fact, the pressures were so low the garden sprinklers ceased to activate.

The gardeners notified our property manager who contacted Infralobo immediately. Infralobo technical services reported to our property manager that the villa’s water branch (outside the property boundary) was “clogged/blocked” and it was therefore necessary to substitute the piping and the cost to the owner was €520 +VAT.

Our Portuguese property manager was astounded by the proposed charges and told us that the Property Tax (IMI) which we pay to the Câmara provides the necessary revenue to cover repairs to roads, sewers, calçada, etc, and Infralobo (majority owned by the Câmara) is responsible for the delivery and maintenance of water supply. We were told by Infralobo that only Infralobo could do the repair because it was on the roadside.

We were also told by a member of the resort management here that a similar problem was experienced at Vale do Lobo when Infralobo took them over and activated new water pressures on that estate.

Seemingly, the cause of the problem lies in the original water pipes not being up to the present day standards, and over the years this leads to a large build up of calcium.

When Infralobo implemented (at our estate) new and more powerful water pressures this caused the blockages on the roadside and affected the water pressures/supply on some of the properties which included ours. In our view, to avoid these problems Câmara/Infralobo ought to have brought ‘up to date’ the existing infrastructure pipes and connections outside owners’ boundaries to cope with the new higher water pressures installed.

It’s totally unfair to expect that the burden is placed on the owners of properties who are paying very high charges for water and infrastructure services. In our case, we had no choice but to pay the huge charge because we had no water, and we were not allowed to engage another company to repair the problem on the roadside. We were also made to pay ‘upfront’ which was prior to the work commencing, and we have been the villa owner for 24 years.

So far, we have been unsuccessful in recovering the money paid to Infralobo. Maybe the lawyer representing the estates in your article may take this up as it could affect all or some of the homeowners in your article.

We plan to also send a copy of this letter to the Mayor of Loulé, Vítor Aleixo, to see if he can also assist us in this matter.