EU steps into murky marshes
Monte Pego residents summoned to Brussels
A MONTE Pego resident group has been summoned to Brussels after the European Union Petitions Committee agreed to investigate ongoing sewage leaks into the neighbouring wetlands.
The Association Pro Monte Pego (PMP) petitioned the EU last summer about leaks in a waste water plant owned by the developer which nobody would take responsibility for.
A 17-year dispute between Pego council and developer Monte Pego, S.A., about whose job it is to finish off the urbanisation, means both parties pass the buck whenever public infrastructure goes wrong.
The developer claims it asked the council to link the plant to the urbanisation 17 years ago and had to go to court to get them to do so, and is now trying to recover its costs.
Monte Pego S.A. says the leakage 'is clean water and does not pollute' the Marjal wetlands, that the open valve in the plant is 'vandalism' rather than lack of maintenance, and blames homeowners for 'draining their pools into the mains without permission' for 'overloading the sewage plant'.
Meanwhile, the council says Monte Pego, S.A. is responsible for solving the four-litres-a-second human-waste leak into the nature reserve as the plant belongs to the company.
EU gathers evidence and reaches verdict
Since PMP contacted European Parliament, environmental engineers from Brussels have been gathering evidence on site and analysing water samples.
Now, they have reached a verdict, which has not yet been revealed.
It will be explained in full to PMP representatives in person.
The association hopes the EU will rule in its favour and force the council's hand.
Tests carried out by PMP and by another residents' group, the Vecinos de la Montaña de Pego Association, have already shown the water contains several types of bacteria present in human poo which are toxic to people, animals and plants.
“Having the courage to confront injustice is never easy; perversely, the often long and difficult journey makes as many enemies as friends, and the temptation to give up becomes strong,” says PMP spokesman Anton Leest.
He speaks of 'hard lessons learnt', including finding out 'those who hold the power... defend the indefensible' and that the legal system can 'cloud rather than clarify issues'.
Homeowners' cash held by town hall
As yet, neither association has been given any update on the legal battle between the council and the developer, so they have no idea when, or if, they will ever be given the basic facilities and maintenance and repair services they need.
Yet owners have been paying taxes to Pego council for 17 years.
And those who have paid large sums held by the council in escrow accounts are wait- ing for their money back.
They are unclear if the practice is legal, but certainly consider it cheeky that the town hall requests additional funds before awarding planning permission to villa-owners 'in case the developer does not finish the urbanisation' – even though the homeowners thought they had already paid for the missing infrastructure when they bought their houses.