Tetyana Tarasevych remembers how life got better in Ukraine's southeast nearly 70 years ago after the vast Kakhovka water reservoir was built near her home in the village of Hrushivka.
As the vast reservoir has lost around three-quarters of its volume since the destruction of the Kakhovka dam last week, she is now using glass jars to catch rainwater.
Her village in the Dnipropetrovsk region faces an acute water crisis that has left hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians without normal access to drinking water across a swathe of the south, according to President Volodymyr Zelensky.
"When the reservoir appeared, we started to live it up. We piped drinking water to the main streets... and now look. Only tears," the 80-year-old Tarasevych told Reuters.
Water taps were turned off for many of the village's residents last week
Those who had water storage pools rushed to fill them up.
"(I have) four cubic meters. It's enough for a month, but not to wash or anything like that," said 70-year-old Oleksandr.
Only 15% of residents still have water running from their taps: others have to rely on water brought in by the authorities. The local administration delivered 2,160 bottles of drinking water for residents on Wednesday, municipal head Serhiy Marenenko said. But more than 7,500 people live there.
Before the dam was built in 1956, Tarasevych was resettled from a nearby village that was fully submerged by the reservoir. After being under water for decades, the land where the village stood has now just resurfaced due to the receding water.
The water level has fallen five to six meters after the dam's destruction and nearly 30,000 people have lost access to centralized water supply, according to Yevhen Sytnychenko, head of the wider Kryvyi Rih district which comprises three towns and over 16 villages.
Across the country the problem is much bigger.
'IT WILL NOT RETURN'
The Kakhovka reservoir provided water to the wider population, farmers and industrial enterprises as well as to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. It also supplied a vital water canal to occupied Crimea which was seized by Russia in 2014.
Ukraine's military intelligence agency has accused Russia of deliberately blowing up the Kakhovka dam to halt Kyiv's long-expected counter-offensive. Russia has said Ukraine carried out the attack on the dam.
Environment Minister Ruslan Strilets said Ukraine had already lost about 18 cubic kilometers of the water since the dam's destruction unleashed catastrophic flooding in the southwest.
"This is about a third of all the water of the Dnipro cascade. There is no water in the reservoir, and it will not return there for a very long time," he said in a statement.
The Ukrainian government rushed to set up alternative water supplies and limit potential health hazards from contaminated water. The government has channeled 2.5 billion hryvnias ($68.36 million) to ensure water supply to the south.
The measures included sending water purifiers, water carrying vehicles, setting up specialized centers to distribute bottled water and also to construct a new pipeline that can pump 300,000 cubic meters of water per day.
However, the construction of the 87-km water pipeline would be a complex project and could take months to complete, analysts said.
In the meantime, mayors in affected towns have urged residents, who have already survived months of missile attacks and electricity blackouts during the cold winter months, to go one extra mile and save water.
Oleksandr Vilkul, mayor of Kriviy Rih, Zelensky's hometown, said the city was relying for now on water reserves that had been built up, but that they could run out quickly.
"The first option is that we do not save and after a month 70% of the city remains without water," Vilkul said. "The second option is to save and gain time to carry out the necessary work. There are no other options. It is very important for everyone to reduce water consumption by 40%."