Each of the main towns has its own Water Board, and mains water can be supplied to all houses. As with electricity, the cost is a sliding tariff depending on use every billing period (generally three months), and currently each municipality in Cyprus determines local rates. In 2007 the first 30 cubic metres in Larnaka cost 19c each; the next level was significantly higher, at 43c per cubic metre. At the start of 2008 Cyprus converted to the euro currency, and since then prices have gradually increased. By the end of 2009 we were paying 42 euro-cents per cubic metre for the first 30 used, and 97 euro-cents for the next level. By the end of 2013, it had more than doubled again, so that the first 15 cubic metres now each cost 90 euro-cents, the next 15 cubic metres a euro each, increasing still more for higher amounts used.
Most houses have both a cold and a hot water storage tank, generally on the roof or on a roof-high structure next to the house to provide sufficient pressure. These tanks hold plenty of water to last an average family for at least a couple of days, if used sensibly.
Hot water is heated by solar power during the summer months, or indeed any time when the sun is shining. There is usually some form of electrical immersion or other backup heating system for overcast days.
The kitchens are usually equipped with hot and cold water taps that use water from the tanks, and also a mains water tap that gets cold water directly from the mains. This is suitable for drinking, although many homes put in an additional filtering system to make it taste better.
Water from the tanks may also be drinkable, if the tanks are new and the water is used regularly, but some homes have old and rusty water tanks, sometimes with holes that allow insects inside, so it’s not advisable to drink from them!
Lack of rainfall and water restrictions in Cyprus
Water provision is an ongoing problem in Cyprus, with lack of rainfall in recent years meaning that reservoirs are often only about 25% full by the end of the winter rains. Until 2001 water was restricted, with mains water only being switched on two or three times per week. People learned to keep mains water in bottles for drinking, and to limit their washing machines and garden watering to days when the water was on.
The building of a de-salination plant after a series of particularly dry winters led to water being on almost constantly, and inevitably people started taking water for granted. Despite hose-pipe bans and on-the-spot fines for using hoses, many Cypriots wash their patios and even the pavement in front of their homes two or three times per week, with water pouring out of hoses.
After two more dry winters, water restrictions were introduced again at the end of March 2008, with mains water on for about 12 hours in every 48. This eased in January 2010 after one of the wettest winters on record, but water is still considred a valuable commodity in Cyprus.
Mains drainage is slowly being introduced, in line with European regulations, but at present many houses have septic tanks rather than being connected to the mains for waste water. Nevertheless, in addition to the quarterly water bills, we have an annual sewarage/drainage bill of about €60 per person.