B Law & Tax
07 September 2023

Tax advisor: The rate for water supply, with a fixed and variable fee, follows principles of efficient use, cost impact, sustainability and solidarity

The appealed judgment argues that the first instance judgment is wrong in determining who is the final beneficiary of the service, since it considers that it is the municipality and not the individual consumers. Furthermore, it points out that the subject matter of the appeal refers to the supply of high water and that the tariff structure complies with Article 111 bis of the Water Law.

The central justification of this ruling in relation to this issue is based on the fact that the European Directive 2000/60/EC seeks to protect the aquatic environment and improve water quality to ensure sustainable development. In this context, Article 9 of the Directive emphasizes the importance of considering the principle of cost recovery and the use of pricing as an incentive to promote water use efficiency and achieve environmental objectives.

The ruling states that in order to achieve a balance between economic growth, the provision of water services and the conservation of the aquatic environment, prices should reflect the costs of making the resource available to users, as well as the scarcity and costs associated with maintaining and improving water quality. In addition, prices should encourage responsible and efficient water use by all users.

The approved tariff includes a fixed fee per inhabitant to cover fixed costs and investments, which is not contrary to Article 111a of the TRLA or the case law of the CJEU with respect to Directive 2000/60/EC. In summary, the judgment argues that it is compatible with these regulations to include a fixed fee together with a variable fee for the supply of water to municipalities integrated in a metropolitan entity. This fee is not aimed at the end users of the water supply, but at the municipalities, and it is up to each municipality to apply mechanisms to comply with the principle of cost recovery in the tariffs for low water supply, which are aimed at the end users. The Court establishes as jurisprudential doctrine that this tariff structure is compatible with the principles of efficient water use, cost recovery, sustainability and solidarity, by imposing a higher proportion of the costs in the fixed fee based on the number of inhabitants of the municipality.

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