Water bills in Malaga city are now calculated differently.
Since November, there has been a change in the way water bills have been calculated in Malaga city. The Emasa water company now takes into account the number of people who live in a property and this has had an unexpected consequence which is beneficial to Malaga City Hall. Because homes with more occupants are assigned more cubic metres at the lower tariff, the cost of water works out cheaper and as a result people who were previously not on the municipal population register have been rushing to sign up so they can obtain the benefit. The higher the registered population, the more money local councils receive from the State, so this is a situation which makes everyone happy.
An explanatory letter was sent by Emasa to householders a few months before this new method of calculation came into effect and between 1st September and 30th November 4,546 people registered at the City Hall as residing in the city. This was 300 more, or six per cent more, than in the same period of 2012. Likewise, an unusually high number of people notified the authorities that they had changed their address: 11,319, which was 4,476 more (65 per cent) than during the same period a year previously. Although nobody gave a reason for this sudden flurry of notifications, Emasa and Malaga council are confident that it was generated by the fact that a saving of 20 per cent is possible on water bills for a property where three or more occupants are registered.
The head of Emasa, José Luis Rodríguez, says that in many cases the address of a property does not coincide with the information held by the water company, mainly because of changes to the numbering in streets or because a property has more than one entrance and the City Hall and Emasa each had it registered at a different address. In a situation such as this, he explains, the new method of calculating the water tariff cannot be applied.
Emasa and the consumers’ associations have set up a committee to advise people who are not sure of their situation. Students, for example, may have to be on the population register in their home towns to benefit from a grant, but they actually rent a property in Malaga. Separated or divorced parents have also been asking about children who live part of the time with their mother and the rest with their father. Most such cases are being resolved favourably even though it is not possible for all members of the household to be on the population register at one address. However, families who have registered their children at their grandparents’ address so they fall into a particular school catchment area are not able to claim them as part of the household in order to enjoy lower water bills.