For people who can't afford to invest $250 in an individual gas-powered hot water heater and pay to have it installed, even the simplest of daily chores become a huge annoyance. Imagine having to heat your bathwater in pots on top of the stove! Washing dishes and cleaning take a long time, too, since you have to wait for the water to boil. Most Muscovites can afford hot water heaters and aren't affected; for those who can't, however, the sharp divide between rich and poor in the city becomes all the more glaring. If you ride the metro, you can tell which neighborhood is without hot water by how many people getting on at a certain stop haven't bathed. When we lived here in 1999, we didn't have a hot water heater--MAN OH MAN were those showers quick and cold! Certain products are specifically promoted for their effectiveness in cold water; here is an advertisement for dish detergent that shows how well it works in polar ice cap water. Our water is also completely shut off quite frequently whenever there are repairs or renovations in our building. A sign is usually posted the day before the shut-off warning us, but sometimes I don't notice it and it's a nasty inconvenience. When the water then gets turned on again, it is often a yellow/orange, full of rust. Sometimes I have to let it run for half an hour before it's safe (or at least looks safe) to use. We certainly would NEVER drink it.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
No Hot Water? Must Be Summer in Moscow.
Today I was at a friend's house on the other side of the city and I saw this warning note hanging on her door: from July 3rd to 23rd she won't have any hot water. For three weeks every summer, Moscow's city government conducts a rolling cut-off of hot water, neighborhood by neighborhood, in order to repair decrepit pipes. Moscow's hot water runs through a citywide, centralized system of aging pipes installed when the Soviet Union's top budget priority was its Cold War nuclear arsenal. Quality was sacrificed for quantity in the housing sector, and today many of Russia's apartment buildings are decaying at a rapid pace. The only way to repair the pipes is to shut the hot water off completely.