Monday, January 11, 2010

Water restrictions in Cyprus have been resumed

Ah well. It was nice while it lasted.

About ten days before Christmas, I suddenly realised that our mains water tap had been flowing for two days, without any cuts. Prior to that, we had got used to the pattern of being on one day, for about 12 hours, then off for the next. That's how Larnaka did it, anyway. Other municipalities around Cyprus had different ways of trying to save water. Since we all have large water tanks on the roof, it shouldn't - theoretically - have made a lot of difference to our water consumption. It just meant that when the mains was on, we filled up water bottles to use on the 'off' days. Water from the tanks should be drinkable, if the tanks are air-tight, but we prefer fresh water that hasn't sat around in a tank.

A little gingerly, I kept trying the mains water over the next few days, so that we could have truly fresh water in a jug at the table, rather than from a bottle. Every time, it was on. We guessed that we were having freedom from restrictions over the Christmas break, starting early... and it's amazing, really, how quickly we became accustomed to having fresh mains water on tap all the time.

In the back of my mind, however, was the thought that it probably wouldn't last beyond Christmas. So on the Sunday afterwards, I made sure that all our drinking water bottles were freshly filled.

But the mains water continued to flow. Perhaps it would last until the New Year, I thought. On the Sunday afterwards, once again I ensured that the water bottles were full with fresh water.

To my surprise, it continued last week, too. Of course, Epiphany (January 6th) is another public holiday here, and considered part of the Christmas/New Year period. Schools were off until last Thursday. But the mains water continued pouring out of our taps on Thursday, and Friday, and over the weekend.

Yesterday, I did use older water from bottles to water plants, and filled up two or three of them with fresh water again. But the impetus wasn't so strong. I began to wonder if, due to the excessive amount of rain we had in November and December, we might have water on all the time. This morning, once again, mains water was on.

Then at lunch time, it wasn't.

I had a quick search to see if there was any information online, and sure enough I found this article: Water cuts to resume after Christmas wastage. Sigh. I would have liked the title better if the last word had not been there. I don't think we wasted any water; indeed, I'm sure we used less than we did in the summer, since we weren't watering the outside plants.

But apparently, when water is not restricted at all, people assume there's more than enough, and waste it. Excessively. To be sure, we've seen neighbours hosing down not just their patios, but the pavement and sometimes even the street outside their houses. It's a Cypriot thing, apparently. It seems very strange to us. Perhaps they've also been washing their cars more than they did (not that restrictions seemed to stop them). Or maybe they're just being less careful in general, leaving taps running, or having much longer showers.

So we're back to restrictions. I don't mind; the only difficult part is right now, not knowing when we're next going to have the mains water on. Going off at lunch-time was not part of the pattern before mid-December. Does that make today a water day (switched off early) or a non-water day (switched off late)? Will we still have water every other day, or will there be a new system altogether?

All we can do, cliched though it seems, is wait and see.

No comments: