I have extensively covered water issue’s here in San Carlos. Certainly one of the things that chaps my hide more than anything is the way the water company screws over residents of San Carlos. In many ways CEA , La Comision Estatal de Aqua, has shown as much racism in the way it treats it foreign residents as Donald Trump showed Mexicans at the beginning of his campaign when he stated that,
“What can be simpler or more accurately stated? The Mexican Government is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States. They are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.”
The Donald of course made a very calculated red meat statement to rile up the base and it worked well. He even got some Latinos to vote for him in the recent Nevada primary. I am not here to talk about Trump but it is important to understand though that CEA is no less racist than Donald Trump himself. Last year we documented how CEA has relentlessly committed fraud against consumers. The common denominators often being race combined with socioeconomic status. Many foreign residents pay their bills without really checking the amount. Knowing that fact, CEA purposely over charged foreign residents here by factors of almost 200% in some cases and then later blamed the over charges on faulty meters. Hundreds if not a thousand homes were overcharged on their water bill. If you didn’t see the video or read the posts you
can click on the links because what the water company has done should cost them dearly some day. And that some day may be soon upon them. Part of that cost may well be in the form of a lawsuit. And anyone familiar with this case knows that the guy behind the law suit is none other than Juan Carlos Gonzales.
While most of us in San Carlos pay around 350 pesos a month for our water bill I will remind readers that Juan Carlos is the guy in San Carlos who pays 80 pesos a month for his water bill and has do now for several years. The water company doesn’t like that. Juan Carlos pays what he believes is the legal amount that Guaymas can charge. What terrifies the water company is that more people are going to start to understand how they have been getting screwed and then their will be a mass uprising against CEA.
The water company also doesn’t like bad press and so when we published our video last year CEA backed off and continued to take the 80 pesos a month dolled out to them from Juan Carlos. Of course now we have a new administration and a new mayor and Juan Carlos is going to have to educate them once again on what is the law. Two weeks ago CEA discharged a shot across the bow of that was heard load and clear by Juan Carlos. Being a guy who doesn’t like to take shit from a corrupt governmental agency Juan Carlos decided it was time to go on the offense.
What happened was that two nicely groomed gentleman with beautiful new blue shirts with a lovely embroidered CEA logo on them showed up at JC’s house one day and politely informed him that they were here to cut off of his water supply. The truly interesting part about this is that the gentleman who showed up to cut his water do not work for CEA. It is a private company that is contracted to cut the water supply and they may even have a contract try to collect on past debts as well. Guess what? This might be illegal under the Sonoran constitution but as we all know when has something that has been illegal ever stopped a government official from doing what they want. What is also interesting is that the Uribe family, yes that is the Uribe family of the first PEMEX gas station in San Carlos fame, has the contract to cut people s water supply.
While the impeccably groomed guys in their pretty blue shirts were there trying to cut the water Juan Carlos made a quick phone call to CEA in Guaymas. Now what is also interesting is that our last Comisario Efraim Soto got a real nice job working for CEA in Guaymas. JC gets Efraim on the phone and tells him that they will be making a big mistake if they go through with cutting his water off and demands to have an interview with him. The boys in blue backed off and did not cut his water. Unfortunately that was not the case for other residents in the Ranchitos. I know of at least one recent case where a single mother was approached by the privatized CEA boys in the pretty blue shirts and not understanding what her rights were had her water promptly turned off by these heartless bastards, who are of course only doing their job. Guess what, in the Mexican constitution, Article 115 states that water is a human right and CEA has absolutely no business cutting someone off from one of their basic human rights when they have children in the house.
So what happened on Friday the 26 of February is of note. Juan Carlos formally delivered a letter to Roberto Romano Terrazas, the new head of CEA where he clearly states that he has serious questions that need to be answered about not only his water bill but the other services that are documented on all of our bills. It is clear in his mind and others that CEA is committing fraud on all water bills in San Carlos.
The devil lies in the details so let’s go over a standard water bill and for that I will put forth my very own bill.
The red arrow indicates what my consumption of water was for the last billing cycle and according to the boxes on the right I used a bit more water than last year. According to the text on the left side of the arrow I consumed 11 cubic meters of water. What is important to note is that at no time ever over the last year did I even get close to consuming 30 cubic meters of water which I will remind readers is what you are charged for. Please remember that they charge us ever month based on the idea that we are using 30 cubic meters of water. Whether we use any water or not we get charged the same amount.
So logically we have to ask why is that we even need a water meter if they are going to charge us no mater what our consumption is?
You would be surprised at how many lots and houses do not have water meters here in San Carlos and I can tell you from experience that the water meter has been used as a good excuse to over charge people for water consumption. The funny thing is that it doesn’t matter whether you have a meter or not. They will use your meter or your lack there of against you, the water company loves to double dip! Last year hundreds if not over a thousand water meters were replaced. The majority those meters had nothing wrong with them. Remember I spoke to the plumbers who changed them out. So CEA uses the water meter to screw people over by claiming there is something wrong with it. That is how they justified sending out water bills that were sometimes 200% more that what they should have been,
don’t forget that often times CEA is pumping air through the lines and that will make your meter spin faster than a political pundit in the 2016 GOP presidential election after a Donald Chump press conference.
Now what about if you use a small amount of water and your water meter shows that. And again it should be mentioned that CEA tried to double dip on that deal by saying that your meter is bad because your consumption was to low by their estimates, so you need to replace it. Selling water meters was very good business indeed, just ask Dorita over at Aqua Luz she will tell ya! They tried to get consumers coming and going on that but lets assume that your meter is ok and CEA acknowledges that.
Why should you be penalized and charged for 30 cubic meters of water consumption if you used considerably less?
Which is essentially what CEA does to so many of us in San Carlos. I used 11 cubic meters last month and I got charged for 30. Juan Carlos is the perfect example of this. Juan Carlos is a single guy who lives alone and is very frugal about his water consumption. Actually frugal might be an understatement, stingy might be a better word. He essentially uses exactly 1 cubic meter of water every month. It is important to note that the majority of San Carlos is on some type of septic tank system or leech field. The majority of the town does not have any type of sewage treatment system what so ever but yet when you check your bill you may find as I do that I am charged for what is called DESCARGA DE DRENAJE. this is denoted below by the red arrow. Translated DESCARGA DE DRENAJE means drainage discharge. CEA is charging many of us for a service they simply don’t provide.
Lets just completely forget about that pesky little “sewage treatment” charge and take a look at the meat and the bones of our water bill shall we. I really have no problema at all giving some money to the Bombers or the Red Cross as is stated on my bill above but lets take a close look at the base charge, which is 254.60 pesos.
This is the real problem and this is were the biggest part of the fraud lies for CEA and the Municipality of Guaymas since you have to understand that although the state my be in charge of running the water system here the city is in charge of charging for the service and they get to keep a percentage of what they bill for. Maybe that is why they like to over bill the shit out people!
It is here we must consult the Ley de ingresos or in English the “revenue act” for the municipality of Guaymas. I will remind everyone that even though San Carlos is called a Comisaria we do belong to Guaymas and we are in the municipality of Guaymas. If you click on the Ley de ingresos link and scroll down to page 17 you will find Article 35 which clearly states what the Municipality of Guaymas can charge for potable water. We will get to the potable water part of all this in just a few minutes! Belowis a screen shot from the link.
Lets focus on domestic use here and I have highlighted in yellow what the law says can be legally charged for domestic use of water in the municipality of Guaymas, which by the way is where we all live here in San Carlos!
Based on the above I should have only paid $54.22 pesos last month for the 11 cubic meters of water I used!
There is no other part of this document in the Ley de Ingresos that shows there is a special rate for San Carlos. CEA always contends, when they are questioned on this discrepancy, that San Carlos is a “zona turistico” (tourist zone) and thus we can be charged a higher rate. Of course all you have to do is drive around most of San Carlos and you will see that San Carlos is mostly a residential zone, but there are tourist zones in Guaymas like the boardwalk. I wonder if people in Guaymas who live next to the board walk are charged a tourist zone rate? I don’t think so! Take a drive into the Ranchitos and tell me how you can label that part of San Carlos a tourist zone? Regardless of that there is no where any where in the Ley de ingresos that states Guaymas can charge San Carlos residents 5 times more than the domestic rate in Guaymas.
Now lets talk about the potable water part of this scenario.
By law Guaymas must deliver potable water to its users.
And at this date we have not done a laboratory test of the water coming out of the pipes in San Carlos to see how potable it is but that is on the list of things to do. Many people are doubting the potability of the water that comes out of the pipes. I know for a fact that my taste buds are never excited at the prospect of sampling San Carlos tap water and that we personally at my home do not drink the water coming from the faucet.
It is important to note that I have not discussed the failing water infrastructure at all yet in San Carlos. We will get to that in just a moment. But to recap the case for fraud by the water company the main jist of the arguments are below.
- San Carlos residents are overcharged for the domestic water rate.
- San Carlos is being charged for services such as sewage treatment that are not provided.
- San Carlos is being charged for potable water that may not be terribly potable.
- San Carlos residents are now having their water shut off for lack of payment which is a denial of their constitutional right and thus an abuse of their human rights.
- CEA has contracted a private company to shut off water services. It remains to be seen at this moment if that is even legal under the state constitution. At the moment San Carlos TV is attempting to get a copy of the agreement between the Water company and this private business.
Lets talk about the worst part of all of this. The sheer amount of water that Guaymas looses because of failing infrastructure. For that I turn to a man named Victor Parra Maldonado. Victor is a local Guaymas activist who was one of the central figures in stopping the state agency CEDES from constructing the zip lines over at the Estero del Soldado.
Victor is for all intense purposes a walking encyclopedia on Mexican law and I was able to sit down with him last Saturday and interview him “on camera” over a range of subjects. My big question for today’s piece was if he had a concrete study of how much water is chucked into the desert because of leaky pipes and failing infrastructure. Here is what Victor explained to me. For Guaymas to provide for all its water needs in a 24 hour period 640 liters of water per second needs to be pumped to the city. At the moment 1240 liters of water per second is being pumped to Guaymas and that amount is not satisfying the needs of Guaymas. That means that over half of the water getting pumped to Guaymas is being lost. We are still working on the exact amount of water lost between San Carlos and Guaymas but it is not unreasonable based on other studies we have analyzed in Sonora to expect the number to be around 50% or more.
The amount of water lost in the desert is the biggest shame of all here and I personally, almost that is, wouldn’t mind paying more for water than Guaymas if I knew that the money I was paying into the system was being used for more than just the padding of the pockets of the the executives who work in the upper echelons of CEA. I know for a fact that CEA employees get excellent wages and huge bonuses. If CEA took the all that extra money that they illegally charge us for and fixed the leaking pipes here we would have a hell of lot less to complain about and Juan Carlos Gonzales would have one less reason to sue them! It should be mentioned that La Independencia de San Carlos, the group that is actively involved in making San Carlos into it’s own municipality, will be using this fraud perpetuated by Guaymas and CEA as one of the rationals in it’s legal brief to the State of Sonora.