A developing Attica is at the mercy of the weather

Behind every flood there is a rubble-filled stream, a blocked river, an outdated study on anti-flood works or the complete lack of any such study. Once again, nature has shown man where he has unwisely intervened and caused damage. The careless and unplanned use of land, the non-observation of environmental planning regulations, brooks, streams and rivers overflowing with rubble, plans for anti-flood works which have not been updated to address the current situation, these are the biggest mistakes we have made in Attica, and in other parts of the country, and for which we are now paying dearly. At least that was the conclusion drawn by the managing committee of the Technical Chamber of Greece (TEE) during a press conference on Monday ahead of the fourth International Exhibition and Conference of Environmental Technology that TEE is organizing from tomorrow to Sunday. The conference will focus on anti-flood protection. Even works to bolster the banks of the flood-prone Kifissos River – intended to stop floods in neighboring districts – will probably prove to be inadequate, according to the TEE official responsible for environmental affairs, Stavroula Xarhakou. The Kifissos’s current water capacity is under 500 cubic meters per second – and plans are to boost it to 1,400 cubic meters per second – but this is still not enough to accommodate the increasing amount of water flowing into the Kifissos as the Attica basin grows. Problems as serious as the one threatening the Kifissos River are increasingly cropping up in many other areas, such as in Mesogeia from the river in Rafina, the Thriaseio Plain at Sarantopotamos (for which anti-flood works were put out for tender in December), the Aghios Ioannis waterway and others. Similar problems arose in regions outside Attica, such as the flooding of the Diakonari waterway in Patras in 2001 and the Xiria in Corinth. According to TEE, all these disasters have been due to existing pipes that are either inadequate or blocked, and to the increase in water supply. Environment and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou made public a list of all the necessary anti-flood works and studies needed in the Attica region in order to raise the required expenses of 645 million euros. Only 58 million euros of the above sum has been secured from the Economy Ministry, while it is hoped that private funds will cover the rest. «Some of the works can be handled in groups and others can be assigned as independent projects, such as in the case of the river at Rafina – for which the final study will be ready in June – or the one at Erasinos,» General Secretary of the Environment and Public Works Ministry Takis Vassileiou told Kathimerini. TEE disagrees with this proposal. «These are not matters that should be subject to negotiation with private investors,» Xarhakou said. «Anti-flood works should be undertaken using state funds, because investors will want their money back – with returns.»

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