ECONOMY

Government to draft management plans for water resources

The problems of managing water resources in Greece and abroad were the focus of a meeting titled «Toward a New Management Strategy for Water Resources,» organized yesterday by the non-governmental organization Citizens for the Future. «Few people realize that what has prolonged life expectancy by many years in the 20th century is the purification and chlorination of drinkable water. The contribution of this factor has surpassed that of all medicines together,» Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said when opening the event. Referring to Greece, Sioufas explained the reasons for the problems in the rational management of the country’s water resources: the uneven distribution of water resources in the country (with more rain in western than in eastern Greece); the unbalanced spread of demand (the Thessaloniki-Athens-Patras axis shows increased demand); the dependence of northern Greece on river water coming from neighboring states; and the many waterless or almost waterless islands. The minister stressed that there is still no complete plan for managing water resources rationally in Greece, adding that there are ongoing studies for the drafting of Water Resource Management Plans for each water region in the country, aiming at a complete analysis tool to manage water. Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Evripidis Stylianidis, discussing whether water might become a cause of war in the Middle East, emphasized the lack of water sufficiency in the region given that most rivers cut through more than one country, so «their management has mainly political dimensions and requires cooperation.» Representatives from Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, participating in the conference, agreed that the lack of water in the region requires cooperation among the countries concerned. Stylianidis added that within the context of Greece’s development policy, the Foreign Ministry has included in its priority programs for the planning and reparation of water and sewage networks as well as the purification and decontamination of water. EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said in a message from Brussels that water resources management in Europe and the Middle East is a priority for the Union, as expressed during the summit for sustainable development in 2002 in Johannesburg. He also said that in the Mediterranean context of this initiative Greece will be invited to play a leading role in the 2005-2007 period.