Retired soldiers and their families residing in a compound located on the grounds of NATO’s High Availability Land Headquarters at the Jaime I Base in Bétera (Valencia) have been resisting for years to disconnect from the illegal supply of water from wells belonging to the Ministry of Defense, which they enjoy totally free.
The military presence at the foot of the Sierra Calderona natural park, with the nearby Marine base, has always weighed on the phenomenal landscape in this area, located a few kilometers from Valencia and converted into one of the strategic points of NATO.
However, the retired commanders residing in the Poblado Militar have lost the (legal) battle against the decision of the Ministries of Defense and Ecological Transition to force them to disconnect the illegal supply of water from the two wells at the base to their homes and pay, like any civil neighbor, the concession of the municipal network.
The Military Village is a unique space that houses single-storey houses as a small garden city for two hundred retired commanders
The Military Village, located in the western area of the base and separated by the road between Bétera and Olocau, is a unique space that houses single-storey houses as a small garden city for two hundred retired commanders. For more than two decades it came to have a school for the children of the military and a church presides over the town square.
Retired military personnel historically got their water from wells on the base. In 1995, due to the scarcity of water, the Júcar Hydrographic Confederation (CHJ) authorized the legalization of a new well in the military compound pending the definitive concession, initially including the Military Town. However, four years later, the then Institute for the Housing of the Armed Forces (Invifas) of the Ministry of Defense changed the legal regime of the houses of retired soldiers, forcing them to connect to the public supply network.
The water supply to the military housing pavilions ceased to depend on the Bétera base, but the neighborhood association that represents retired uniformed personnel appealed the resolutions of Invifas (currently called the Housing, Infrastructure and Defense Equipment Institute) in court. . After an appeal four years ago against the decision to remove the meters to cut off the water, the retired military managed to paralyze the procedure, thus extending the free supply.
In 2018, the CHJ issued a resolution that canceled the water supply to the housing blocks. The City Council of Bétera awarded a community of irrigators the contract for the management and operation of the drinking water supply service in the areas where the Poblado Militar is located, thus obliging the retired managers to formalize an individual contract with the concessionaire company.
The military refuse to pay an “abusive price”
After concluding the works and the pipelines for the supply, the water insubordinates refused to sign the contracts with the concessionaire alleging that it was an “abusive price”. The association appealed the resolution of the CHJ and requested that the Poblado Militar be included as a user of the intake of the wells of the base, thus saving the payment of the public water supply.
However, the first section of the Contentious Chamber of the Superior Court of Justice of the Valencian Community (TSJ-CV) has dismissed the appeal, in a ruling that is not final and that imposes the costs on the neighborhood association. The resolution concludes that it is a “situation that remained illegal.”
Neither the association nor the users of the Poblado Militar homes “at any time had or acquired the status of holders of the original use,” argues the TSJ-CV. “They were mere de facto beneficiaries of the use granted in favor of the military base and on behalf of the Ministry of Defense and the Army,” adds the sentence to which elDiario.es has had access.
The State Attorney, representing the Ministries of Defense and Ecological Transition, argued that the situation posed by the association “does not correspond to reality” and alluded to the trajectory of the Bétera military base, which has gone from a from the main squares of the Francoist Army in the postwar period to NATO’s high-availability headquarters.
“The situation of 1940 has nothing to do with the current situation legally or really,” affirms the State Attorney’s Office, which recalls that “there are other forms of water supply” and reproaches that retired soldiers try to “maintain an illegal situation.” “They can’t pretend that water is free,” she insists.