TAP water in Murcia is the most expensive in the country, and in Valladolid it is the cheapest, says a leading consumer protection group.
Differences of up to €454 a year in tariffs – or 349% - have been detected by FACUA-Consumers in Action, meaning water bills are a postcode lottery.
Basing their research on provincial capital cities alone, FACUA has found that including all the extra charges covering supply network maintenance, drainage and water purifying treatment, a typical water bill in Spain for a consumption of 10 cubic metres is €17.52 – but this falls to €10.82 in Valladolid and rises to €29.35 in Murcia city.
After Valladolid, the rest of the 10 cheapest cities for water supply are Zaragoza, with an average of €11.31 for a consumption of 10 cubic metres; Salamanca, at €12.49; Pamplona, at €13.36; Logroño in La Rioja, at €13.62; Castellón, at €13.85; Málaga at €14.09, and Madrid at €15.74.
As for city-dwellers who pay the most, after those in Murcia come residents in Barcelona, who shell out €23.49 for a consumption of 10 cubic metres; Cádiz, at €22.98; Huelva, at €22.39; Alicante, at €21.98; Palma de Mallorca, at €21.92; Sevilla, at €20.85; Valencia, at €20.22; Almería, at €19.45, and Córdoba, at €19.38.
None of these prices includes IVA or the standing charge for renting and maintenance of meters.
FACUA says some water boards charge a higher fee for a meter with a calibre of 15mm than of 13mm, which it says is unjustified because there is no difference in performance.
Yet prices have risen by 0.4% for 13mm meters and 0.5% for those of 15mm in diameter.
And for 15mm meters, a consumption of 10 cubic metres is most expensive in the city of Alicante where a bill for this level of use would come in at an average of €48.62, followed by Murcia, at €29.35, and Huelva at €24.24.
Whilst the average bill in Spain's cities for consumption at this level is €17.52, for a 15mm meter it rises to €18.92.
Compared with FACUA's research from the year 2014, only 10 out of the 28 cities analysed have not varied their prices – A Coruña, Bilbao, Cuenca, Murcia, Palma de Mallorca, Pamplona, Salamanca, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Valladolid, and Zaragoza.
Of the remaining 18, the highest price hikes have been seen in Alicante, Barcelona and Jaén.
FACUA says water boards should bill according to the number of inhabitants in each property, and apply progressively-increasing tariffs to discourage excess consumption.
At present, only the cities of Málaga and Sevilla link their tariffs to number of occupants, although others such as Barcelona and A Coruña put households on a different charging scale where they have four or more people residing at a given address.
In another 17 towns and cities in Spain, water boards take into account whether occupants of addresses with three or more people are part of the same family or are merely flatmates, in order to apply reduced tariffs.
FACUA has also called for water boards to take measures to ensure those in poverty or who simply cannot afford to pay their water bills are never left with their supply cut off.
The consumer giant recalls that water has been declared a basic human right by the United Nations.