Water!

Reservoir

Reservoir

Clean water is a scarce commodity the shortage of which some say will lead to wars similar to the oil wars of the last few decades. Even in the UK there are water restrictions which are partially blamed on poor water management so it is not surprise that north Cyprus has problems in the summer. In fact I find more surprising the fact that each week through the mains some councils can regularly deliver 3 or 4 tons of water to their customers, even in August. The Malatya area, under Alsancak Belediyesi control, is currently one of those areas. Although, now I’ve said it, the supply will probably stop just to prove me wrong.

Malatya village used to have a waterfall which apparently flowed for 12 months a year but this has now been diverted to supply the population explosion there. Lapta village is another area with a reputation as a constant source of water. Until recently this supply had ceased being fed to households and residents were being told to either wait a few weeks for a tanker to bring free water or to buy that water from private companies.
In Cyprus Today, Brian Williams is quoted as saying that in Lapta, “a state of emergency should be declared” concerning the water shortage there. A 27 TL standing charge includes a prepayment for 10 tons of water which if not delivered is still payable. This figure of 10 tons per month seems to be an indication of an average household’s monthly water usage although in some villages a figure of 20 tons has been set as a level of consumption beyond which a penalty is paid in the form of a high tariff for all water consumed.

I hear some foreigners complaining about locals “damping down” the dust by hosing the front of their houses and yet this probably takes less water than the foreigners use in their dishwashers. Others point to swimming pools as the culprits for water wastage. A properly maintained pool should need no more than 4-8 tons of water per month to top it up even in August. Exceptions to this are when children and adults are practicing their Olympic diving techniques. Another problem is the poorly constructed pool which leaks.
Many resident tend to their gardens throughout the year and in summer try to keep the plants looking healthy, often watering them with a hose rather using a more economical irrigation system which only delivers water to the plant roots. A normal size garden would probably only use a few tons of water this way. These gardeners often secretly use hoses because they believe that all watering systems are illegal and that the local council has a policy of forcing residents to let their plants die each summer.

If all this water use is added up and normal household consumption is included usage should stay below 20 tons per month and probably even 15 tons even in August. The argument is about where this water comes from and how much we should have to pay. I can’t remember there ever being a shortage of water, only that water becomes more expensive as it has to be tankered in as the mains supply dries up. A rough figure for the cost of water via the mains is about 1-2 TL per ton whereas tanker water costs 10-15 TL. All this water generally comes from the same water table but unlike in the UK where all water is owned by the water board, here private companies are able to empty the sources of municipal water. Cyprus Today (27/6/09) reported the dispute at Gönyeli between its mayor and the head of the water department. The mayor was furious when the water supply to the village was allegedly halved from 200 litres per day per person. This amounts to 12 tons for a household of 4 people instead of 24 tons per month. The water department boss argued that it was because of power cuts and that the service would be resumed as soon as possible. It seems strange that in some areas people are arguing about levels of water supply which people in other villages can only dream about.

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