Costabella, one of the developments with no mains drainage system. / Josele

At least 4,000 homes in Marbella are not connected to the mains sewage system

Next year work will begin to remove the septic tanks at El Rosario, Hacienda Las Chapas and Costabella and connect the properties to the mains

JOAQUINA DUEÑAS

Last week, Marbella council ratified its agreement with the Acosol water company and the residents’ association of El Rosario, to connect properties there to the mains sewage network. This is the first agreement of this type, but it will by no means be the last. Acosol has identified eight residential developments in the municipality of Marbella and its area of competence which lack this basic infrastructure.

Carlos Cañavate, the CEO of Acosol, says they were all built years ago. The houses were constructed with septic tanks and no connection to the mains sewage system, which means that their sewage is disposed of without being treated.

As well as El Rosario, Costabella, Panorama, Loma Las Palmas, Los Pinos, Ricmar, Hacienda Las Chapas, Pinos Verdes and part of Marbesa are all affected. In total, about 4,000 properties have septic tanks, with the risk of leakage that goes with them. Under the agreements, the council will pay 50 per cent, Acosol will pay 25 per cent and the owners will pay the other 25 per cent of the cost of connection to the mains network.

It is still too early to say how long it will take to do away with all these septic tanks because, apart from the separate agreements having to be reached in each case, it will depend on the administrations’ ability to finance the works, given that the estimated general cost is between 20 and 30 million euros. However, next year the works can begin in El Rosario, Costabella and Hacienda Las Chapas. They will cost over ten million euros, and will involve nearly 40 kilometres of pipes being laid.

Contracts

Carlos Cañavate hopes the contract for El Rosario can be put to tender before the end of the present year. With the exception of Costabella, “all these are residential areas with large villas with swimming pools, and as soon as these works are completed those properties will increase in value, so for the owners this is a good investment,” he says.

There has been some criticism of public money being used for projects which will increase property values, but according to Acosol the situation is very straightforward: they have no choice but to take action. “We are managers and therefore when there is an irregular form of sewage disposal we have to do something about it. And also, every time there is a leak or spillage, we are the ones who have to deal with it,” says Cañavate.

Initially, Acosol pays for everything through a loan and then the Town Hall and the owners pay the company their share. “It is not always clear whose responsibility it is legally because it might be the developer who built the urbanisation 40 years ago, whose whereabouts are unknown, or it could be the person who enjoys the use of the house. However, nowadays, anyone who buys their home legally in these conditions cannot be asked to carry these works out,” he says.

The problem with septic tanks is that the sewage isn’t filtered and detergents and chemicals can’t be used, so what is released is pure waste.

“Some deposits have also had to be closed down because the water they contain, which would normally be suitable for domestic consumption, has been badly contaminated by septic tanks in the area,” Cañavate says.

As well as El Rosario, Costabella, Panorama, Loma Las Palmas, Los Pinos, Ricmar, Hacienda Las Chapas, Pinos Verdes and part of Marbesa are all affected. In total, about 4,000 properties have septic tanks. Under the agreement, the council will pay 50 per cent, Acosol will pay 25 per cent and the owners will pay the other 25 per cent of the cost of connection to the mains network.

It is not known how long all the works will take as it will depend on the administration’s ability to fund them, given that the estimated general cost is between 20 and 30 million euros. However, next year the works can begin in El Rosario, Costabella and Hacienda Las Chapas.

Carlos Cañavate, the CEO of Acosol, hopes the contract for El Rosario can be put to tender soon. With the exception of Costabella, “all these are residential areas with large villas with swimming pools, and as soon as these works are completed those properties will increase in value, so for the owners this is a good investment,” he says.

There has been some criticism of public money being used for projects which will increase property values, but for Acosol say, they have no choice but to take action. “When there is an irregular form of sewage disposal we have to do something about it. And also, every time there is a leak or spillage, we are the ones who have to deal with it,” says Cañavate.

Acosol does the work and then the Town Hall and the owners pay the company. “It is not always clear whose legal responsibility it is because it might be the developer who built the urbanisation 40 years ago and whose whereabouts are unknown, or it could be the person who enjoys the use of the house. Nowadays though, anyone who buys their home in these conditions cannot be asked to carry these works out,” he says.

The problem with septic tanks is that the sewage isn’t filtered and detergents and chemicals can’t be used, so what is released is pure waste.

“Some deposits have also had to be closed down because the water they contain, which would normally be suitable for domestic consumption, has been badly contaminated by septic tanks in the area,” Cañavate says.