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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 July 2007, 13:28 GMT 14:28 UK
Life after the taps run dry
By Jon Kelly
BBC News, Gloucester

Waking up to another morning of dry taps, the people of Gloucester are learning to live without water.

Anna Berry
Anna Berry says her main worry has been keeping her children clean

With no immediate prospect of seeing their supply restored, householders have to rely on lateral thinking to stay refreshed and clean.

Baths hastily filled before the flow was cut off are carefully rationed. A row of plastic bottles adorns every hall and kitchen.

For many families, even trying to maintain basic hygiene requires improvisation.

Anna Berry, 37, says her main worry is how to keep her children Oscar, four, and Charlotte, 10 months, clean.

"I've been boiling bottled water and washing them in the sink, but it's hardly ideal.

"They don't seem to mind - kids tend to cope with these things better than we do, and it would be harder if they were newborns.

"But if it carries on much longer I'll go and stay with my mum in Plymouth. There's only so long you can live like this."

Severn Trent Water has 40 teams of workers supplying three million litres (660,000 gallons) to 400 bowsers, which dispense water in streets, across Gloucestershire.

This is making us all improvise, I suppose, but I could do without it
Lisa Brill
But for all their efforts, they cannot always ensure there is enough for everyone.

Nanny Lisa Brill, 40, is emptying the very last drops of water from the bowser across the road from her home.

"Before the taps ran dry I told my kids not to flush the toilets or anything like that, but it didn't save us in the end," she laughs.

"I filled the bath up with water, but that can only last for so long.

"This is making us all improvise, I suppose, but I could do without it."

Ron Munro
Some kids turned the taps of the bowser on and left it to flow, so my area was left completely dry
Ron Munro

Shoppers were already queuing outside Asda in the city centre at 0700 BST to buy bottled water.

Ron Munro, 73, is heaving as much bottled water as he can carry to his car outside the supermarket.

He is annoyed that he has to be making the journey at all.

"Some kids turned the taps of the bowser on and left it to flow, so my area was left completely dry," he says.

"I don't know when the water company will get a chance to fill it up again, so I don't want to risk running dry."

Business has also been badly hit, with most shops in the city centre still closed.

Hot drinks

One local entrepreneur who is still trading is window cleaner Peter Watkins, 42, who took the precaution of filling up his van with 250 litres (55 gallons) of water in case he ran dry.

"I have to admit I've had some funny looks in the street when people see my bucket," he laughs.

Peter Watkins
I've had some funny looks in the street when people see my bucket
Peter Watkins

"I've got enough to last me for a week, so hopefully my livelihood won't be affected."

Nick Hedley-Ward, 46, also knew he had to keep his business going - he opened the Square café only a fortnight ago.

He managed to locate a 10-gallon (45-litre) tank, which he hopes will keep him trading.

"The espresso machine is connected to the mains, so I can only offer tea and instant coffee," he laughs.

"It's not quite the service people are used to.

"But I'm sure people are desperate enough for a hot drink that I'll be able to keep going."

Welcome to a world where an ordinary cup of tea is a precious commodity.


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