Our water bill landed in the post box with a moderate thunk this year, fortunately not as heavy a one as I’d expected. However, we’re still paying €530 euros between the two houses and pool. Of this total, almost half, €220, isn’t actually for water.

First up there’s the abonnement which is €80 per account, so a total of €160. (We have two accounts since each building must have its own supply and meter.) Abonnement is generally used to mean ‘subscription’, suggesting an optional element, but in the case of the utilities it translates as ‘standing charge’. And don’t the utilities love those! The remaining €60 odd euros is taken by the redevance pollution d’origine domestique – tax on household pollution, which is proportional to the amount of water you consume. This seems a tad cheeky when all our wastewater goes into either the bacs à grasse (soakaways) or the fosse septiques (septic tanks) whose installation we paid handsomely for during the renovations. Our wastewater isn’t being taken away by a sewage system, as in towns. In fact, until 2008 most small communes were exempt from this redevance for that reason, but obviously some keen-eyed politician saw a nice if unfair way to make money, as politicians always seem to do! Official websites explain that this redevance income will be used to improve our water quality and the supply system. So what is the abonnement money going towards then?

The back of the water bill is interesting. It gives a breakdown of the water quality, and, if your water is consumed by guests at all, is something you should make known to them (by law). I put a photo copy into our gîte welcome pack. Our water was tested for bacteria five times in 2011 and passed each time, so that’s a relief. There was one test for pesticides and one for arsenic, and both were well below the accepted levels. Five tests for nitrates came out at roughly half the accepted level. Our water isn’t officially turbid either. However, it’s as hard as nails and failed the pH and dureté tests dismally. Might the abonnement or redevance go towards correcting those? No mention of it. But we’re used to hard water from Ireland and our brains are probably fairly well clogged up with heavy metals by now, so what harm! I was pleased to see our water comes in at below the government recommended 0,5 mg/l for fluoride. I’ve always been very anti the flouridisation of water. As it is, Rors’ teeth show signs of slight flouriosis with the tell-tale mottling.

Anyway, that’s the last of the big bills for the time being. Phew. They recommence in October with the taxe foncière but that’s ages away yet …