A Hungarian Mother Talks About Water

By , HVG

A BUDAPEST woman describes her present and childhood experiences with water:

"I live with my husband and three children in a family home in the greenbelt suburbs. I work for an agricultural cooperative as a chief accountant and I also do bookkeeping for several small companies.

"We built our house six years ago in a street with water mains laid on, but there were no sewers, so we had a big septic tank built on our own. The annual water consumption of our family is about 500 cubic meters (653 cubic yards) - 0.27 cubic meters (0.35 cubic yards) per person daily. This is the quantity the four of us need for bathing every day, cooking, for running the washing machine and the dishwasher, and in the summer, for watering our greenhouse and small kitchen garden. We used to consume more

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water when it was cheaper, but the last couple of years we have been trying to be more economical with it.

"I don't have any complaints about the quality of the water, but we do have a serious problem in the summer when, because of the severe decrease in water pressure, we are lucky if the tap in the top-floor bathroom is trickling at all. The electric boiler does not heat the water either.

"Since I was brought up in Mohacs, a town on the Danube in the south of Hungary, I have many experiences with water. I have three brothers and sisters, and my parents could not afford sending us on vacation, so in the summer holidays we spent all our days on the Danube sunbathing, swimming, and rowing.

"Of course, we had frightening experiences - in 1956 and 1965 - when we had to move from our home, because the street and the garden were flooded by knee-deep water, and we even had a sort of a spurt in front of our house. The dam at Mohacs has been strengthened in the meantime, but the island is still exposed to flooding.

"All in all, I think water is a dominant element in my life. I am always startled when I cannot obtain it for one reason or another. Whenever I was deprived of water - for example when the pipe broke and the water was cut off - I had the feeling that I needed it each and every second.

Now this child, now the other one, asks for a glass of water; in a family of our size we use the toilets 15 to 20 times a day, then you wash your hands; at least once a day I turn the washing machine and the dishwasher on; in the evening the children are grimy all over, so you must bathe them - and I could go on and on forever."

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