Sunday, April 30, 2006

Water restrictions?

When we first moved to Cyprus, there had been a drought for so long that there were widespread water restrictions. Main water was only switched on for about three days per week; the rest of the time we had to rely on our tanks. So we filled about 24 bottles with drinking water from the (filtered) mains tap which lasted while the water was off. We took short showers, and we didn't run the washing machine or use a hose in the garden other than when the mains was on.

It became a way of life. So long as we knew when the water would be on, and were careful the rest of the time, it wasn't really a problem. We thought perhaps we shouldn't use the hose at all in the garden, but our neighbours told us that we must: nobody wanted Cyprus to become a total desert.

The reservoirs got dryer, and a couple of years later water was only on twice per week: once overnight (when it filled up the tanks) and during one daytime, when we watered the garden if needed, and did a lot of washing. We did run the tanks dry a couple of times, but mostly even that was all right.

Then, at last, a de-salination plant was built, and - oh joy! - we had mains water on all the time. Well.. most of the time. Every so often it would go off for an hour or so, probably while some maintenance was being done, or while a leak was being fixed. We continued filling bottles with drinking water, for convenience as much as anything, but limited it to six rather than twenty-four.

Once the de-salination plant was functioning, the weather got wetter. There were a couple of quite wet autumns, and a lot of snow in the mountains which helped to fill up the reservoirs.

But now we've had a couple of dry years again. Very little rain or snow this past winter. The local desalination plant is working well, but the population is increasing, and (we're told) there should have been another desalination plant built but it never happened due to the subsequent rain. We heard a rumour that it's quite on the cards that water might be restricted again.

On Saturday evening, about six o'clock, I switched on the mains tap to get a drink of water, and only a few drips came out. Uh-oh. But I thought it must be some emergency, and that it would be back later.

By bed-time, it still hadn't come on. I was getting a little worried: the Water Board don't work Sundays anyway, and Monday is a public holiday for May Day.

When I got up this morning and there was still no mains water, I was seriously worried. We had quick showers, we didn't flush the loo as much as we would normally have done, and I popped out to the local bakery to buy a few extra bottles of drinking water, since we were close to running out.

To our great relief, the water did come on again late morning.

So I wonder now if it this was simply a glitch in the system, or an emergency that took a very long time to fix... or a sign of restrictions to come?

1 comment:

Leonid Mamchenkov said...

Here, in Limassol, we haven't had any water supply problems for a long time now. A few years at least.

We used to live exactly like you describe, but not anymore. I'd hate to go back...