5 – Water


Water is something you take for granted in England. Mostly it comes out of taps and equally mostly it come out of the air. You turn on the tap, water comes out. If it doesn�t you panic. In Northern Cyprus we got used to turning on the tap and no water coming out.

Because we had decided to build out in the wilds we had to bring water and electricity to us. Water initially came in the form of a 12 tonne tanker load every week. This would cost us �14 and it was not until we were finally on the mains that we realised that we could have purchased � loads. Our builder told us he had included 9 tons of water storage with the house. This consisted of a 4� tonne balance tank for the pool, a 3� tonne depot for household water and probably 1 tonne for the solar hot water system on the roof. The only problem with this arrangement was that in the summer evaporation from the pool and leakages resulted in just under � tonne of water loss per day. On top of this was the problem that the last � tonne of water was inaccessible because it was below the pool inlet pipe and another � tonne was unavailable because of the mechanics of the pool. This gave us only 7 days before we either filled the balance tank up again or we allowed the pool level to drop. This was not a serious problem except that an overflow pool is a wonderful way of removing insects from the top of the pool.

The water depot supplying the house had a similar problem with � tonne of water being unavailable because it was below the pipe and a sensor which decided to switch of the water pump when there was still a tonne of water in the system. This left us about 2 � of useable water. It is not until you live under these conditions that you realise how much water you use. A non-economical washing machine uses about 150 litres of water (1000 litres to a tonne), so a wash a day gets rid of 1 tonne of water a week. A full bath or non-stop shower uses about 75 litres of water a week; there goes another tonne. This doesn�t leave much for the other water-reliant functions. As you may have guessed our excessive UK water use habits soon changed.

What brought this change fully into operation was the week we ordered our water on a Thursday expecting it to be delivered that day or the next and because of tanker mechanical problems it was not delivered until Tuesday of the following week. It is amazing how long you can make a little water last when you have to.

At the moment we have temporary mains water connected by a hose pipe from a metal pipe about 500 meters away. Metal pipes have been run past our villa and soon we hope to be attached to the main supply from the hills above us. We have a meter attached and we are allowed 20 tonnes every two weeks for a fixed price of �4! If we use more than this then the price per tonne for the extra water increases. We have yet to find out what to. We previously used about 9 tonnes of water a week but when we changed or water consumption habits this reduced to about 6 tonnes a week. Our meter shows we have used about 12 tonnes in two weeks so if we carry on at this rate then our summer water consumption will be about 28 tonnes over or bi-monthly �allowance�.

We are about to have our garden landscaped and included is an �irritation system� as some people refer to it. Neighbours have reported increases in their water bills by as much as �30 per month. This may not seem much unless you are trying to live on a �500 per month pension as many early retirees are trying to do. The advice we have been given is to plant mainly drought resistant varieties if possible.

Two other useful pieces of water related equipment it is worth having are metal water depots with stands and a submersible pump. We have two depots which cost us �100 each, both able to hold 2 tonnes of water. The pump cost us �40 in the UK and has been a godsend at times. We estimate that as long as we keep our system full at all times, if there was a serious water shortage we could last a month and that�s without using the swimming pool for household functions.

The issue of shall we drink the water or not is a serious one. We have had a tap attached directly to the mains supply so that it does not come to us via the depot. This is probably not necessary but as we are away for months at a time we prefer not to drink water which has stood, un-chlorinated, that long. There have been no stomach upsets from drinking the water so for now we are trusting the local supply.

Another alternative which those with more sensitive stomachs use is the hot and cold drink dispenser which carries a 19 litre bottle of water. After the initial deposit on the bottle, refills cost �1.20 each and last two people about 2 days if they use this water for every situation which involves drinking water, in other words for teas and coffees and for cooking. It is wonderful having cold or boiling water on tap, but make sure you buy a model dispenses more than � litre of cold water before it starts to warm up. You�ll find this information in the instruction book. We have a compromise which consists of using the theoretically non-reusable bottles with our own water. This system is only for those capable or quickly turning upside down an open bottle, full of water, weighing 19kgs, before the floor is too flooded. For a saving of about �15 per month I am willing to do this.