When I left Sydney in 2006 I think we were on level 6 water restrictions, which meant that basically cooking, toilet flushing, washing hands and bodies were the only things that were acceptable to use water for.
In Darwin, what with the Wet Season that dumps inordinate amounts of water on the Top End for at least 6 months of the year, the idea of water restrictions is just so laughable that I don’t think I ever heard the phrase bandied about even once in casual conversation. I don’t think Top Enders would actually comprehend the very idea of water restrictions or what it means.
But here we are again living with water restrictions, though these ones are of a very different kind. I forgot what a luxury it was to be able to use tap water for anything. Anyone who has travelled to a developing country knows that you don’t touch the water from the taps to the mouth region of your face ever under any circumstances full stop thankyouverymuch. Except in Singapore (although the water doesn’t actually taste that flash there so most people drink bottled water anyway!).
In Ukraine, we ordered those massive water cooler bottles of water through a company called Etalon. I used to hate the ordering process so much (as I had to use Russian… It’s so much easier to speak a foreign language face to face than it is over the phone) so I ordered about six bottles at a time which would last two weeks. Between two people.
Here we are now in Dili, four people including a baby whose food preparation I am still very particular about so our water needs are quite high. I’m yet to suss out if there is a delivery service available here. They certainly have the BIG bottles of water, but I can’t find any bottle-top pumps, only the actual water cooler machines which are over $100 a pop so still tossing up whether to get one.
In the meantime, we are sadly doing out bit for landfill, purchasing 600mL bottles for drinking water and 1500mL bottles for cooking. I do keep them separate when finished, in the hope that our cleaner knows of an unofficial bottle recycling racket and is selling them to a local dealer. Or something.
When it comes to washing up, the estate we live on has a bore and the tap water while probably not drinkable at least isn’t (too) smelly. It’s cool and clear and as the Mr says, probably is an underground river of water that has run down from the mountains. So I’m comfortable enough doing the washing up with this water* – that is, until I get amoebic dysentery – but I still rinse plates and utensils in bottled water unless I’m only putting dry ingredients on them. (I have the feeling that the rinsing with bottled water is kind of an OCD thing that doesn’t achieve much but hey. It puts me in my comfort zone).
When it comes to baths for the girls, the Sprog has been pepped talked enough to know that she isn’t to drink the water, and with Harrie – well, we just have to watch her like a hawk. And when it comes to brushing teeth – again, bottled water all the way baby.
I remember when we returned to Australia in 2009, it took weeks and weeks to feel comfortable with drinking the tap water. Now I’m so used to it that I have to train myself all over again. Who knows – I’ve probably drunk a couple of glasses of the tap stuff here and totally not even realised it, in my perpetually sleep deprived state (but that’s a whole other post).
*That is, letting the cleaner do the washing up with this water