Near the cafe “Dzyga”, Lviv, Ukraine (Photo: Gosia Głowacka, July 2003)
Lviv had trouble with water for many years. There is a dearth of it in the town, a majority of dwellings and flats only had access to it between 6 and 9 in the morning and 18 and 21 hours. Now – theoretically – you can have it on tap the whole day, but there are still exceptions.
There are many reasons for it – geography first, because Lviv lies on a water divide, a not very efficient water pipe system second. A big factor in water insufficiency is also the dynamic growth of Lviv’s population after the second world war (from 300 thousand to 800 thousand), an experiment in turning the city into an industrial one and a failed attempt at building an system of underground trains.
Although there is so little water, the average consumption per inhabitant is higher than – for exemple – in Lublin!. Most inhabitants will “save” water in the morning, save enough for a whole day in the bathtub, and in the evening what is left will be let go, only to repeat the process the next day.
Of course water problems not only hit private inhabitants, they are an issue for institutions, offices and hotels. The cleverer ones will amass water in containers, and in lower class hotels buckets with a small pot are positioned in toilets to flush.
This saving and presence of water in bathtubs and other vessels leads to heightened moisture in the bathrooms, which often results in mushrooms and fungi growing on and in the walls. In the older buildings there never was any heating in the bathrooms, so the cold tap water is being heated mostly with gas, with some of the contraptions many decades old.
Another “Lviv’s invention” is a charge for used toilet paper. The old, unmaintained canalization will get stuffed fairly often.
Human creativity has no limits, though. When there is no water one can paint fish, when a primeval forest disappears one can paint trees. If a country’s law is broken and destroyed – a cynical manipulator may yell that it never existed. But – are we sure we want to live in such a surreal world?