Monday, April 25, 2005

Mains Water

When we first moved to Cyprus, the mains water was only switched on two or three times per week, for about 12 hours at a time. We knew because there's a special mains tap in the kitchen (as well as the regular hot and cold taps that give us water from the tanks.) When there was no mains to fill the tanks, we simply learned to be careful. Quick showers rather than deep baths; washing-up water tipped over the plants; washing machine only run when mains was on; plants in the summer only watered when mains was on. When it was really bad we didn't even flush the loo all the time.

We also kept about 24 plastic water bottles, a litre and a half each, to fill up from the mains water when it was on. I think we only ran out of tank water five or six times in about four years, and we only once ran out of drinking water - then went to buy some more from the supermarket.

When a de-salination plant was introduced to the island about three years ago after several seasons of extreme drought, we were promised permanent mains water. And so it seemed at first. What luxury it was to have drinking water on tap all the time. Something we took totally for granted in the UK, of course.

Still, we decided to continue keeping plastic bottles to fill with drinking water, just in case. We gradually cut down the number, and now usually just keep about six. Not that I always remember to fill them, of course! But they're a convenient way of carrying drinking water around the house, or in the car, and for filling the coffee machine.

What's more, there are still odd times when the mains goes off without warning. Sometimes we see or hear workmen digging up a road nearby and assume it's been switched off to build some new sewers or lay some new pipes. It's a nuisance when it happens - almost more so than when it was predictable, since there's no guarantee that we have any drinking water at all if nobody has filled the bottles! However it doesn't usually last for more than half a day, so it's not too much of a disaster.

Yesterday when we got up the mains was at good pressure - and before going to church I had a sudden urge to fill up the bottles, all of which were empty. So I filled about five of them.

When we got back from church, about 11am, the mains had gone off. We didn't expect it to last long and I was pleased we did at least have plenty of drinking water. I was a bit surprised when there was still no water by the evening, but I washed up carefully - though I'm afraid I just poured the water down the sink rather than over plants! - but still assumed it would be on by this morning.

It wasn't when I got up. There was only one bottle of drinking water left from yesterday, and although I assumed the tanks would still be all right for another day or two, I know we're nothing like as careful as we used to be. It still wasn't on by 8.30 so I had a very quick shower.

But... thankfully by nine o'clock there was a dribble of water, which got slightly stronger in the next hour or so, and now it's fine again. So I could water my new plants - which is rather important! - and fill the water bottles again. The laundry will have to wait till tomorrow, though.

No idea why it was off this time; they don't usually do maintenance on Sundays, particularly not Palm Sunday, and an emergency wouldn't need the water off for nearly 24 hours. Still, it ensures I'll keep the water bottles filled more often at least for the next few days....

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