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Hot Water

  When we lived in the previous house at Justo Mwale, we were right under a very large water tower.  This provided us with great water pressure and some of the best showers we have experienced in Zambia.  For three years, we had it made (in terms of showering).  Now, we have a much larger house and nice garden area but the water situation isn’t nearly as nice.

  The house we live in has two electric water heaters, one on the main end and one for the guest end.  The water heater for the main area is placed in the ceiling above a bedroom and it began to fail and would cause Eric and Kathy to have to manually bail out the heater bucket by bucket to replace the heating element or whatever was wrong with it.  After a while, they said enough was enough and instead of purchasing a replacement and putting it back in the original bad location, they decided to invest the money in solar water heater.  So we have a solar water heater for our end and a smaller water heater for the guest end.

  The source of the water for the house is the city of Lusaka.  We have never experienced a complete lack of water but the water pressure is generally quite low.  Our property is on a slight incline with Kathy and Eric’s house on the highest ground, the main house and then the majority of the yard and garden on the lower part of the property.  During dry season the water pressure is usually pretty low and we have a lot of plants and garden to keep alive, so we water quite a bit.  Since the taps are in the lowest part of the property, they get the water first.

  All of this leads to some interesting dynamics when it comes to our two households.  For example, one afternoon the gardener was watering the garden and Eric decided to take a shower in their house on the highest part of the property.  I am sure the water pressure wasn’t great, but it was adequate for a shower.  However, after he applied the shampoo, the water stopped completely.  They looked out the window and could see that we had started doing the evening dishes.  Since we were lower, we got the water.

  Since the solar heater is on top of the house, it is even higher than the Fasts house.  So sometimes we get nice hot water (assuming you wait until the right part of the day) and sometimes you get little water or for some reason it isn’t hot.  We can’t quite figure out the pattern.  Recently I was overdue for a shower only to find the water was rather cold (in hot season that wouldn’t be a problem but in cold season a bit of warmth is appreciated).  Again, there are times when the water is so hot you can’t stand it.  This was the case recently when our two younger boys were showering.  However, there was no cold water, so they couldn’t cool it down.  No shower or boiling shower.

  Like Forest Gump said, “Showering is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get.”   Work has just begun to install a water tower on the property.  This will allow us to pump water up to an elevated tank which will then hold lots of water as well as provide the needed water pressure.  We are cautiously optimistic that this will bring some predictability to our water situation and will keep Eric from getting stranded in the shower.

  Our situation is better than most everyone in Zambia and, I am sure, most of Africa.  As they say, you don’t know what you have until it is gone.  As I mentioned, there is a water heater for the guest house, so when we don’t have guests, we can sneak over to that end if all else fails.  What I have realized is that a nice warm shower is pretty important to me.  If I were forced to choose between having coffee or a shower, it would be a tough choice.  I am sure those around me would definitely opt for the shower.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Cheryl Smith
    July 31, 2012 at 6:59 am

    I know I am super slow in responding to this blog but I have to tell you that I loved reading about your water challenges. Not because I want to see you all suffer after having such fabulous water pressure your first two years but because it is one of those things that people don’t get unless you live there. We were very thankful when the water tower was built for us but it also lulled us into a false security at times. When there were water problems anyway, it was even more frustrating! I’m sure you will rig something out so that you get the perfect shower and a cup of coffee, without having to choose!

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