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Sunday 26 December 2010

Water shortage

As the saying goes "Water, Water, everywhere but not a drop to drink". Although we are surrounded by sea and land covered with snow we have restricted access to water. Well not quite true as Scottish Water shipped over several tons of bottled water on Christmas Eve. Above is a photo of Button going to check the delivery of water which was delivered by a local farmer via tractor.

We've had problems with the water flowing through a sub-sea pipe from the island of Hoy for about a week. The water board men came out each day last week (except Christmas Eve, and obviously over Christmas) but failed to find the problem.  Hence the shipment of bottle water via our ferry from Stromness and instructions to not use what little water is left in our water tank on Graemsay. It's still not known where the problem is, but there is no water coming into our tank at the moment (not sure if this is because "they" have turned it off or whether that's part of the problem). Anyway what water is left is being used for those farmers and crofters who have cattle over-wintering in sheds and byres. The rest of us are using bottled water for washing, cooking etc. We're hoping the water board engineers come out again tomorrow (Monday) when our ferry service restarts after the Christmas break.

It is surprising just how reliant we have become on fresh water flowing from taps!  I have had to put notices on my taps to stop me automatically turning them on!  The idea is to try and *not* drain the main island water tank to try and prevent air getting into pipes etc, or pumping sludge round. I've been melting snow to use too but it takes ages and results in less water than I expected!

A thaw is predicted this week so hopefully the 4 to 6 inches of snow will disappear and maybe the water problem (or lack of water problem) will be resolved quickly. Though the bore of the water pipe which comes underwater from the island of Hoy is quite small, meaning the tank will take weeks or months to fill up again. It's possible that water bowsers will be sent over to the island (again from Stromness) but as our ferry is lift-on-lift-off only and with a restricted weight limit, that could take some time.

Meanwhile I am resolving to appreciate flowing tap water more after this! 


  1. Snap! We islanders must stick together! Our thaw started this afternoon, the only thing is I know there will be at least one unwanted jet of water when the flow starts - roll on Wednesday, when the plumbing supplies place reopens.. Good luck anyway - most impressed with the tractor delivery! Best advice - layer up :)

  2. Had some experience with water shortage in the middle of the Ocean. Here in Long Island ( East of NYC) last summer in the scorching heat the water usage was restricted, becaue the reservoir started to dry up.
    My garden and many other just died, hoping to come back next year. Water activity in the heat used to be a way off cooling off.

  3. Oh, Sian, I do hope that they sort the water supply soon. I've been reading Mick's blogs as well. It's been milder here today so hope the same is true for you & it makes the problem easier to find/solve. Your photos are, as always, stunning. Happy New Year to you & Button. Jo