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Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Water Machine

We try to avoid drinking the tap water in Kazakhstan.

We actually never received any sort of "official" guidance on the water.  But since our employer put hot/cold water dispensers in all of the offices and provides large bottles of water for them, I'm led to believe that everyone--locals and foreigners alike--is concerned about the quality of the tap water.

Since we never received any official guidance, we don't know with any certainty what the problems are with the water.  Some people have told us it's heavy metals people are worried about, but we don't know where they may have heard that.  Everybody seems to have their own system for dealing with this.  I usually use tap water for cooking pasta, since I throw out so much of the water anyway, but bottled water for cooking anything else.  I figure I'm probably getting some cooked tap water when I eat in the cafeteria or in restaurants, anyway.

I've lived in a lot of places where at least some of the people avoid drinking tap water, but this is the first place I've seen a machine like this.

You pay 10 tenge per liter (Kazakhstan's tenge is floating but today that is worth about 4 cents).  So you can fill any size of container that will fit under the spout.  I usually just fill 5 liter containers because they're big enough to last a while, but small enough that I can still carry two or three of them.

The first time I used this machine, I spent some time trying to decipher the Russian directions.  Then I realized there were also English directions.  Oops.  Aside from my lack of attention to linguistic detail, it's pretty user-friendly.  The water splashes a bit,'s just water.  Also, the machine inexplicably rejects some coins.  It's not a matter of denomination, so I wonder if it's a matter of older and newer versions of the same denomination of coin being slightly different in some way that the machine can discern but I can't.

I look forward to the day when I no longer have to worry about the tap water.  But this machine is an okay way to get at least some of of our bottled water.  And as a bonus, it is keeping our supply of small coins under control.


  1. Where is this water machine located in relation to your apartment?

    1. The water machine is in the lobby of our building, pretty close to one of the elevators. So when I fill up containers, I don't have too far to stagger with them.