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Old well serves residents left without water supply after western Japan flooding

Shizuko Kitamura draws water from a well for a man in the city of Onomichi, Hiroshima Prefecture. (Mainichi)

ONOMICHI, Hiroshima -- An old well dug during the Edo period (1603-1868) is proving valuable for some residents here whose water supply was severed in the wake of downpours in western Japan that triggered deadly landslides and flooding.

The well, one of a pair called "Nikai Ido," is located near Tsuchido Elementary School in the city. The two wells are believed to have been dug in the late Edo period, when the residential area was developed. Though they usually stand idle, one of the wells can still be used and has become a sightseeing spot.

Water supplies were severed in the city on July 7. Since the amount handed out at distribution points set up by the municipal government was restricted to 6 liters per person (12 liters from July 11), some residents have come to the well to get water.

The well is 2.5 meters deep and is not easy to use. Shizuko Kitamura, 77, who lives near the well, helps people draw water using a bucket.

"I can't close my eyes to people in need," she says.

Five or six people come to the well every day. According to Kitamura, one housewife uses the water to rinse her washing.

Another well, named, "Mizuo Ido," located near Onomichi Hondori Shopping Street, is also open to the public. Next to it is a washing machine that people can use free of charge.

"It's very helpful to be able to wash clothes," commented a 73-year-old housewife living near the well, who says she uses it at least twice each morning.

On July 8, the city began calling for residents to open wells to the public on its website, and volunteering shop owners in the local shopping street have been offering well water services.

(Japanese original by Naoki Fuchiwaki, Onomichi Local Bureau)

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