Sunday, September 02, 2007

Water restrictions in Cyprus

It was bound to come eventually. I wrote, a few weeks ago, about the water shortages becoming severe in Cyprus. Yes, there is a desalination plant, but it doesn't cope with the constantly increasing demands on fresh water, coupled with lack of rain in the past couple of years. Moreoever, desalination isn't good for the environment, or the sea. Apparently the waste products from the process are put back into the Mediterranean... meaning that, in a decade or two, it could end up like the Dead Sea.

People simply don't seem to care. There are letters in the papers blaming foreign maids for wasting water, but that's not what I've observed. I see Cypriot women getting up early to wash their patios with hoses, then they wash the pavements outside their houses, and then they even wash the streets. It's unbelievable, in the face of rapidly diminishing water supplies, but they don't seem to care. They get up early so that the police won't find them. A few high-profile fines might solve the problems - but increased warnings don't seem to make any difference.

So, this afternoon for the first time in many months, our mains water was switched off. I assume it was deliberate, not merely someone working on the water pipes, since it's Sunday. I don't know how often this is going to happen - we haven't seen any announcements about water restrictions, just mention that it might happen if people didn't make more effort to conserve water.

When we first moved here, mains water was only switched on for three days per week. When the water shortage was at its worst, a couple of years later, we only had mains water twice a week: once overnight, and one full day. We kept about 24 bottles of drinking water, and only ran the washing machine when the mains was on. Our tanks only ran out a couple of times; we got used to conserving water as much as we could, taking short showers, and so on.

In the past few years, with constant mains water, we've got careless, We now only keep about five litres of drinking water in bottles, including two in the fridge. I hate the thought of going back to severe restrictions, but at least this time I can understand why it happens. If we don't conserve water in a major way - or have a huge extra amount of rain this winter - Cyprus will almost run out of water by the end of the year.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In our area of TRNC we have mains water for around two hours a day and most night-times. Like you, we rely on bottled water and on a reserve tank that we buy water in for. And I too get so cross with people who wash their cars/drive-ways,shop fronts/pavements. I get as cross with those who use water as freely as they want (this includes my parents!!) because 'they have had a well put in on their propery'. They don't seem to see that IT IS ALL THE SAME WATER SOURCE whether from a well or from mains. And it is a dininishing resource.

My mother tries to have 'an English country gardej' in her house and amount of watering that takes.........

It drives me mad!!