A local matter today, though one with relevance to other places: one often hears BBC reporters saying in shocked tones that such and such a place in Africa or Afghanistan has no running water; it probably doesn’t occur to them that there might be places nearer home that have none, or little, or useless. My sister in England asked the other day about our water supply, so here’s what I had to tell her: (Remember, this is the 21st century, and we’re talking about a densely populated village in a European country.)
Lately the water our local council sometimes — to be fair, most of the time now — deigns to pump up to our little hilltop village has been getting saltier and saltier, until it’s now, frankly, plain sea-water and quite undrinkable; even the dogs and cats are refusing to drink it and it’s even even pretty useless for washing. Everybody is having to buy mineral water in plastic bottles
The water for the village comes from a deep well quite near the sea and is pumped up to a big tank at the highest point of the village, from where it trickles through the pipes to the houses, many of which have underground storage cisterns, because until recently the pump was only turned on once a week or so, so the big tank emptied within an hour or two and then there was no more water until the next week, or whenever they remembered to turn it on again. But I think now they leave the pump running nearly all the time, and people, especially the summer visitors who don't have to pay the water bills for their rented houses, are very wasteful. So I suspect the water-table has gone down (a normal well keeps the same level as water trickles in as fast as it’s taken out) and the sea-water has started to trickle in. Once that starts to happen, the well becomes useless.
A huge reservoir was built way up the island a few years ago, but work on laying pipes to bring its water to the rest of the island was stopped; I'm not sure if there's any water in the reservoir but any there is doesn't go anywhere.