Drinking water in the north unchecked

By Kyriacos Kiliaris
 
Turkish Cypriots are worried that their drinking water may not be up to standard and may even be endangering their health, due to the fact that the public laboratory has not been able to perform checks on the vital liquid sold in carboys, or large plastic containers, in the north.

The reason for this is that the lab has yet to regain full operations after the fire that destroyed three of its departments last December. The most recent test performed on the contents of carboys by the public laboratory took place last year.

The public lab burned down on December 22, after a fire broke out in the laboratory’s warehouse. Various chemicals caught flame, causing serious health problems to a number of its workers.

Seven months after the fire, and despite the lab having been moved to the Veterinary Department, a series of chemical analyses are still not being performed. The lab cannot operate fully, as a range of vital equipment was lost in the blaze and has not been replaced.

Turkish Cypriots rely on buying water carboys to a great extent to obtain their drinking water. People in the north are thus essentially forced to buy water in containers as tap water is not considered potable – and there are no dispensing machines. Although the water which has come from Turkey is said to be safe to drink, people in the north nonetheless do not trust the vital liquid’s distribution system.

In the past, the water reaching Turkish Cypriot homes was proven to be contaminated due to various issues related to the distribution system. The system is old, with many pipelines suffering from dilapidation and decay caused over time.

The biggest problem is encountered in Nicosia, where the water distribution system has failed on numerous occasions. Meanwhile, Murat Kanatli, a Turkish Cypriot Nicosia Municipality member, has told The Cyprus Weekly that “due to leaks caused by faulty pipelines, 35% of the water entering the Nicosia distribution system never reaches consumers”.

However, local councils cannot take any action with regards to the matter as regulations in the north clearly state that the body solely responsible for testing water carboys is the public laboratory.

Given this limtiation, the municipalities, therefore, cannot ask private laboratories to perform checks, leaving Turkish Cypriots in the dark as to whether or not the water they are drinking is, in fact, potable.

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