x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Residents rough it as the Palm taps run dry

Residents of the luxury residence say they have been without water for most of the week.

Kerstin Jordan drinks from a water bottle at the Oceana Apartments on the Palm Jumeirah. Jordan says the Oceana apartments don't have any water now for 4 days. She says each month they don't have water for a few hours but this is the first time there has been no water for 4 days and all she has been given are 2 bottles of water.
Kerstin Jordan drinks from a water bottle at the Oceana Apartments on the Palm Jumeirah. Jordan says the Oceana apartments don't have any water now for 4 days. She says each month they don't have water for a few hours but this is the first time there has been no water for 4 days and all she has been given are 2 bottles of water.

DUBAI // Residents of a luxury development on the Palm Jumeirah are taking baths in the communal pool or in the sea after burst pipes left them without water all week.

Tenants at the seven-building Oceana complex are also using toilet facilities at nearby shopping malls and have rationed drinking water to cook food.

Compensation from the property manager has amounted to a few bottles of drinking water and a discount rate at selected hotels of Dh250 a night - excluding taxes.

Instead, several residents have decided to tough it out at home. "I'm thinking back to my camping adventures when I was young," said Markus Mueller, a 39-year-old German IT manager who moved in soon after the property opened last year.

When the taps went dry he had six 1.5-litre bottle of drinking water on hand, which he has carefully rationed.

To shower, he has taken morning dips in the sea - cleaner than the swimming pool, in his opinion. He then wets a towel and rubs his skin, but without soap since that would require too much water.

"And that's it - a light wash," he said. Without running water to shave properly, he has grown a bit of a beard.

To eat, he has gone to restaurants or kept to cold dishes that do not require water, such as prepacked salads.

He keeps a bucket handy to catch any water that sporadically comes through the taps - just enough to flush the toilet and even nourish some flowers.

Most of the time he takes refuge in his office. "Luckily I'm working," he said. "It's a big advantage."

The water supply was shut down on Sunday for a maintenance team to fix one leak, but additional pipes failed during their repairs, causing further delays. The workers are now also installing additional valves to prevent complex-wide shutdowns in the future, and instead isolate them to separate buildings.

John Stevens, director of the property management firm Asteco, said he did not know when the water supply will be restored.

"We are aware of the inconvenience and distress that this has caused our residents, but since this has not been a single incident, it has been difficult to give a definitive indication as to when the problem will be resolved," he said.

"It is our sincere hope that normal water supply should be resumed as soon as possible."

Khidmah, the facilities management firm responsible for repairing the system, said it was working hard to restore water and keep residents informed. "The Khidmah team have worked around the clock to reinstate the supply, and are working to keep residents updated via text messages, phone and notices in the lifts."

But some residents complained of receiving little information or help from Asteco or Khidmah. Ben Chapman, a 27-year-old businessman from Australia, said he had called several times but not received clear answers, or had been told that the supervisor was busy. He had been told the water would return by Wednesday morning, but instead endured another day of dry taps.

He said the water had been cut a few times since he moved in eight months ago, but only for a couple of hours, and not throughout the complex. At those times he showered at the gym. Now he goes to the pool.

Rachel, a 34-year-old British office manager, said she was considering moving out when her lease expired at the end of the year. "I've been going absolutely mental at them," she said as she left for work.

Kerstin Jordan, a 33-year-old German housewife, has no office to escape to. One night, before the offer from Asteco, she and her husband retreated to a hotel for Dh600.

On another occasion, she took a shower at a friend's house. "In the morning, you can see a lot of people in the pool for the morning shower," she said, laughing. "But I don't feel clean after the pool."

To try to neutralise odours from her waterless lavatory, she has poured shower cream and toilet cleaner into it. She has also spent long days wandering various malls near her home, taking advantage of their toilet facilities.

On Tuesday night she and her husband received two bottles of drinking water at their door. They used it to wash their hands.

chuang@thenational.ae