NEWS

Areas around country facing biggest problems

Irrespective of the amount of rain that falls, or of when droughts occur, certain basins around the country habitually suffer from water shortages and in future are likely to have even more serious problems if something is not done to remedy the situation. Attica basin. Covering a total area of 3,207 square kilometers, it includes not only the prefecture of Attica but small sections of central Greece and the Peloponnese as well as the islands of Aegina, Salamina and Makronisos. Water resources are insufficient, but naturally the capital cannot be left without, so considerable quantities are brought in from neighboring areas (the Yliki, Mornos and Evinos dams), providing a marginal surplus. However, it is estimated that there will be a problem in future as consumption is rising by 6 percent annually. Managing demand, therefore, is considered to be preferable to transporting water from even further afield. According to statistics, Athens is home to 30-40 percent of the population, so its demand on the country’s water resources is extremely high. It is the only basin in the country where most of the water goes to homes. While surface water is safeguarded from pollution precisely because it goes to homes, underground water is of poor quality. In Ilioupoli, Terpsithea, Aghia Paraskevi, Holargos, Korydallos and Kato Kifissia, concentrations of nitrates are over 500 milligrams per liter (mg/l). High concentrations of nitrates are also observed in Koropi, Paeania, Markopoulo, Spata, Megara and Marathon, mostly because of intensive farming in these areas. Although no official figures are available regarding the presence of heavy metals, the underground water around the Kifissos and Ilissos rivers is of very poor quality. The Thriassic Plain is extremely polluted due to urban waste, farming and the Ano Liosia landfill, but there is insufficient hydrological information on the area to make conclusive evaluations. The area is also subject to frequent flooding which, however, is usually dealt with in an unplanned, piecemeal fashion. Eastern Peloponnese basin. This area of 8,477 square kilometers includes the prefectures of Argolid and Laconia, about half of Arcadia and small sectors of Attica and Corinth. It is no longer self-sufficient in water and will be facing serious problems if no major water governance works are carried out and/or water is not brought in from other regions. In this area, most of the water is used for irrigation, since the local economy is dependent on the primary sector. Total demand reaches 67.4 million cubic meters, with only 56 million available locally. There are no major reservoirs mainly due to a lack of surface runoff. Underground water pollution is also a big problem here. The Argolid plain often suffers from high concentrations of nitrates, way over the recommended limit of 50 mg/l, even going as high as 500 mg/l. The largest concentrations are found around Argos and Nafplion. The main sources of pollution are farming and livestock breeding. The groundwater around Tripolis, Astros and Leonidion is also high in nitrates, with the latter two also suffering from salinization. Smaller, but nevertheless still high, concentrations of nitrates are also found in the water around Sparta and Gytheion. East-central basin. This 12,341-square-kilometer area, which covers part of central Greece, Evia and the Sporades islands, is rich in natural resources, has a long coastline and some of the country’s most important monuments. It is both lucky and unlucky in that it is close to Athens, as it has become dependent on the capital, to the detriment of its natural environment. However, there is no data on the quality of the Boeotian sector of the Kifissos River, the Sperheios and Asopos rivers, which are all basic components of the area’s surface water (along with the Yliki and Paralimni reservoirs which supply Athens). High nitrate concentrations have been found in underground water around Lake Kopais, Anthili and in the silt of the Sperheios River. In the prefecture of Evia, high concentrations of nitrogen have been found in Psachna, at Velos and north of Halkis. Salinization is a serious problem on the coast and in the northern Sporades, but the worst can be avoided if existing resources are managed properly, as irrigation needs are not expected to increase. Aegean basin. The Cyclades, Dodecanese, Lesvos, Samos and Chios basin area covers 9,104 square kilometers, with no possibility of storing winter rainfall. In summer, demand increases dramatically due to the tourist influx, creating major shortages. Demand is estimated at 25 million cubic meters, with only 7 million available locally. There is no information on Aegean ground water. The usual way local inhabitants obtain water is by sinking bore holes and constructing small reservoirs and dams. Solutions such as recycling waste water for irrigation or desalinating seawater could help, but the biggest problem is the lack of information on the magnitude of the problem. The water table has been damaged by salinization on the islands of Rhodes, Kos, Paros, Chios, Samos and Lesvos. There are generally sufficient quantities on the islands of Andros, Tinos, Myconos, Kea, Kythnos, Serifos, Paros, Ios and Anafi; on Sifnos the situation is borderline and there are shortages on Syros, Santorini and Folegandros. There can be no uniform model for the islands as the situation varies so much from one island to another.