France village waits for first taste of mains water

Paying a water bill could be a 'culture shock' admits mayor of village that missed out on connection to mains supply after World War One

Residents of one village in northern France are looking forward to their first taste of fresh piped drinking water in 100 years, after work finally started to connect them to the mains network.

The 350 people who live in Sains-les-Marquion, Pas-de-Calais, are the last in the Artois-Picardy basin not to be hooked-up to the mains water supply. But work started this week to remedy the situation, 20minutes.fr has reported, following promises made after the end of World War One.

Between 1918 and 1927, most municipalities in Pas-de-Calais received subsidies to install a distribution network via a water tower. Sains-les-Marquion, however, was not among them. Some 20 wells were dug instead in the village, and residents were promised that work would commence later.

A century later, the village remained unconnected - but these days, each property has its own well, equipped with a pump, which means householders simply have to turn on a tap to get safe drinking water.

The mayor said that he had last requested the village be connected to the mains network about 20 years ago - but it was only this year that the €1million needed was available.

It remains to be seen whether the 158 homes in the village will be connected, as it is not mandatory and paying a water bill could be a "culture shock", he said.

Work is scheduled to end in the spring of 2020. "For the moment, everyone is telling us they want to connect," says the site manager. "We're going to celebrate the first glass of water."

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