Ludza braces for another summer without hot water

For Ludza, a town of 9,000 in Latvia's east, the summer usually means scarce availability of hot water as the utilities stop pumping it to indebted locals.

While many towns cut hot water deliveries for annual maintenance at the close of the heating season, hot tap water is unavailable in Ludza from June to August, reported Latvian Radio 4 on June 15.

Locals Latvian Radio met did not hide their disappointment and frustration, however they say they're used to it and some boil hot water when they need it while others opt for hot water tanks or showering at their friends' houses.

As it's unprofitable to the public companies supplying the utilities, the Ludza municipality has cut the availability of hot tap water in Ludza during the summer, said head of the municipal Ludzas apsaimniekotājs company Andris Lipacis. Furthermore, he said, many of the locals can't afford to pay for the hot water. 

"Sadly not everyone is using [centralized] hot water in the city. Many have hot water tanks. To top it off, utility debts and leaks amounted to about €30,000 last year. A cubic meter of water costs €1.48, while heating it costs €3.47 per cubic meter. Add to that the water leaks making up up to 13% during the heating season. If we delivered hot water this summer these losses would amount to 40%," he said.

He said that if the municipality decided to resume deliveries during the summer, losses would amount to about €10,000.

A similar situation arises each year in nearby Rēzekne, often hailed as the capital of Latgale. There, however, hot water is cheaper as the town has cogeneration plants that make hot water as a by-product. Hot water is usually not available for two to three weeks during maintenance works in the town's outdated piping system.

This means that it's cheaper for locals to buy hot water from the utility instead of installing hot water tanks, said Aldis Mežals, head of the local heating utility Rēzeknes siltumtīkli.

Other cities in Latgale, like Daugavpils, only see hot tap water become unavailable for two to three days each summer. 

That being said, in many smaller towns like Kārsava and Zilupe there are no companies to supply hot water at all.

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