Dispute continues over illegal water use
By Antonio De Jesús Aguado
Ulises Valenzuela, president of SAPASMA (System of Potable Water and Sewers of San Miguel de Allende) stated that the utility company will file a criminal complaint against several housing developments for stealing water. In response, those accused said that they will sue the president for defamation.
On July 12, Valenzuela stated that in San Miguel 30 percent of the water lines are irregular and some of them were found in housing developments (fraccionamientos) such as El Encanto, El Secreto and Rincón del Cielo, all built and owned by the Araiza family. The president said that the water was used for irrigating green areas and filling a pool as well as for domestic use. Valenzuela made it clear that they provided the support and facilities to the owners for regularizing the problems but there was no response, and for that reason SAPASMA will file a legal complaint against those responsible. He remarked that the fines could range from 60,000 to 600,000 pesos.
Last week, several inspections were performed in the three fraccionamientos. Gabriel Ballesteros, legal representative of the Araiza family, said that some of the inspections were cancelled by SAPASMA because they did not have the necessary staff to do them. Ballesteros said that the president of the water authority made the accusations first and later was seeking proof.
According to the legal representative, on July 7 and 10 Valenzuela commented on a local TV station that there were nine clandestine water lines in Rincón del Cielo and the water was used, besides for filling the pool, for saunas that do not even exist. Ballesteros said that in the inspection held in Rincón del Cielo no irregularities were found and he showed a document signed by a SAPASMA inspector. Ballesteros added that the inspections in the other two fraccionamientos will most probably result in the same outcome as Rincón del Cielo, although he made it clear that if some residents have irregular water connections that would be their problem, not the Araiza family’s problem.
According to Ballesteros, the Araiza family is prepared for any inspection on their properties. “We are just defending our rights legally,” he said. The public relations department of SAPASMA told Atención that a press conference would be organized to announce detailed results of the inspections, but so far it has not taken place.