New Hydra desalination unit to serve as blueprint

A new desalination plant opened on Hydra on Monday giving the island access to drinking water at almost a third of the previous price, is set to prompt the government to make it easier for such units to be constructed.

The plant on Hydra is able to process 1,600 cubic meters of water a day. It was built by Greek firm TEMAK, which won a tender to build and run the unit for 12 years.

“Until now, Hydra used to get water delivered by ship – it was poor quality water but there was no choice,” outgoing Hydra mayor Angelos Kotronis told Kathimerini. “Water used to cost the municipality 3.19 euros per cubic meter but now we will pay 1.19 euros and all we had to do was provide the land for the plant to be built.”

Kotronis said there would be added savings for residents of the Saronic island as they would not have to buy bottled water and their washing machines would last longer because there would less limescale buildup.

The government hopes that the plant on Hydra will serve as a blueprint which could be followed by other islands.

“The most important aspect of this project is that the local authority and the government did not spend a single euro,” said Environment Minister Yiannis Maniatis. “A Greek company was responsible for designing the plant, getting the permits and constructing it after winning an international tender.”

Maniatis said he would be hosting a meeting at the ministry next week to discuss a strategy for creating similar desalination plants “on all the Aegean islands.”

“We have to overhaul the whole system,” the government’s general secretary for the Aegean, Nikos Zoidis, told Kathimerini. “Desalination is clearly cheaper than transporting water, the water is cleaner and there is no danger of an island being cut off – if there is bad weather for example.”

Zoidis said that there was a lack of coordination between government departments and municipalities regarding the installation of desalination plants and that the government would have to improve on this.

“We want private companies to install desalination units on all the islands within the next eight months,” he said, adding that the ministry would examine whether it could contribute financially to the projects or act as a guarantor.