Greece’s water shortages result more from poor management than any lack of resources

It seems impossible, after the volume of rain and snow that fell this winter, that there should still be a problem with the country’s water supply. Unfortunately, the situation is not so easily resolved and requires long-term expert planning that at present does not exist. The problem is not that we don’t have enough water, it is that we don’t know how much we have and how we can best make use of it, according to the experts. The Development Ministry has commissioned a study from the National Technical University’s Water Resources Department, the Institute for Geological and Mining Research (IGME) and the Center for Economic Planning and Research (KEPE) on existing water resources, their quantity and quality and to suggest ways to confront problems. Kathimerini presents part of the results of this study here, indicating regions with the greatest water shortages or where resources are polluted. The study shows that the greatest shortages will be in eastern Greece in summer. According to Rena Mavrodimou, who contributed to the study, development activities, housing, farming and industry are concentrated more in the eastern part of the country around Kavala, Alexandroupolis, Thessaloniki, Athens and around Patras. «However, the greatest rainfall is in the west, so there is an unequal distribution. The total amount of water is sufficient for the country’s needs, but it is difficult to exploit.» During the rainy season, only one quarter of the total volume of rainfall can be stored. «The rest flows into the sea, which could be avoided if specific works were undertaken,» said Dimitris Koustoyiannis, who is an associate professor in water resources at the National Technical University and also a contributor to the study. «We mostly use underground water, so the water table has become depleted in many areas,» he added. The completed study is an important tool for water governance in Greece, but as the authors themselves point out, they have had to resort to undependable data or information from different services based on different kinds of measurements and cannot therefore reach definite conclusions. They say it is quite likely that political decisions might once again not be based on facts, as so often happens.