Most of us do not rejoice at finding bills in our mailbox. But for the 900residents of the Bedouin village of Darijat in the Negev, the arrival of their first-ever water bills were indeed grounds for rejoicing: After 60 years without running water, the village was finally connected to the national water system two months ago.
Though residents say the village has existed for 100 years, it was recognized by the state only in 2004. And it took another five years before the village finally received running water.
Until two months ago, residents had to pump all their water from wells.
"Sometimes, the water would run out in the middle of a shower, or the children would have to brush their teeth in the morning and there would be no water," said Nasser, a Darijat resident. "It was very unpleasant. I paid NIS 35,000 to get a well dug and for the pumps, so that I'd have water in the house. Now I get that for free."
"Of course we're excited by the water hook-up, after so many years without," added another resident, Yusuf Abu Hamad. "We get excited every time a pipe churns out water for the garden."
Running water has also eased another serious problem: the huge quantities of dust produced by the nearby quarry.
While technology exists to greatly reduce the amount of dust generated, it requires a regular water supply.
Hence only now that running water is available has the quarry been able to control the dust and let residents breathe easier.
Now, they are hoping for the next big step: a hook-up to the electricity grid.
"Currently, we spend thousands of shekels a month on the generators in the village," said Abu Hamad. "We hope that soon we will have electricity in every house."
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