Chios: Not a drop to drink

Chios’s abundant underground water reserves are the envy of many other islands. Its springs gush forth winter and summer. The only problem is that the water cannot be drunk. «Our problem here is not quantity but quality,» said Giorgos Syriodis, resident of the Chios Municipal Irrigation and Water Supply Service. «We have enough water, but it is salinated. Over 70-80 percent of the island, the water is of poor quality and is only suitable for washing. The problem is particularly severe in the summer months. In winter the water quality is better, but there is more chlorine in it.» There are plans for the construction of a rapid purification plant and desalination units, not for seawater but for spring water. If these projects go ahead, the resulting water supply will cover the island’s requirements, which amount to 7,500-8,000 cubic meters daily in summer. There are no water storage facilities on Chios, so it did not benefit from last winter’s rainfall. Local residents store water in household tanks, because central supplies are not available around the clock. «The prefectural government has no policy for exploiting rainwater,» said Syriodis. A dam is being built which will cover irrigation requirements over a large part of the island. «So we don’t need well water. Next year we hope we will have drinking water,» he added.