Can you imagine living without running water for over a decade?
For one woman, Danielle in the southern French city of Perpignan that became a reality after she failed to pay a €300 bill issued by water company, Saur back in 2005, according to French press reports.
And after 12 years of legal wrangling the company was finally told in January to restore the woman's water supply and pay €1,000 to the associations that fought on her behalf: human rights group France Libertés and water resource association Coordination Eau Île-de-France.
“We felt devalued,” Danielle told the French press.
Having no water “affects the image you have of yourself. You feel inferior to others.”
Finding water “becomes an obsession, it's all you think about, you have to look for water every day, it's difficult,” she said.
“You have to heat water to wash. The worst is the toilet, you can't bring people home.”
France Libertés say the decision reinforces the basic right to water in France.
“It reminds all operators that they have the obligation to provide water to all their users. The conflicts that they have with them does not legitimize an illegal water cut. “
Emmanuel Poilane, the director of France Libertés said that cutting water for 12 years “is to make life hell for a whole family.”
The cuts are ancient history, sais Saur's customer manager Christophe Piednoël.
“We do not cut [water] anymore, it's totally forbidden. It's a good thing that this is forbidden,” he said.
However, the conflict between Saur and Danielle isn't over yet.
The group has accused her of installing an illegal water connection on the network during the time her water was cut.
She has been sentenced to three months in prison for stealing water but has launched an appeal.