New lease on life for river
Thessaloniki – Up until a few years ago, the Gallikos River, which ran along the outskirts of Thessaloniki, was a flowing torrent. However, as the water table level declined and nearby farms pumped immeasurable amounts of water for irrigation, the riverbed began to dry up and the delta in the area of Kalohori, that once teemed with life, became almost arid. Just when it seemed that it was a matter of time before the Gallikos dried up completely and was wiped off the map, another river gave it the kiss of life, renewing local residents’ hopes that the area would once again become a place of beauty. This river is the Aliakmonas, whose waters are pumped into the reservoirs that supply the city of Thessaloniki. «Great quantities of water, left over from that which arrives at the local purification plant of the Thessaloniki Water Company (EYATH) and is headed for the city of Thessaloniki, is pumped into the Gallikos riverbed,» explained the mayor of Echedoros, Giorgos Arvanitidis. The overspill from the Aliakmonas has breathed new life into the river delta, an area protected under the Ramsar Treaty as a wetlands area that hosts a significant number of rare birds, buffalo and wild horses, all of which had been under threat by the desertification of the area. The municipal authorities of Echedoros, Kallithea and Gallikos, which border on the river, have launched several programs to protect the environment and promote the significance of the Gallikos River. Among these is a plan to replenish the river with clean water from the Kalohori plant, which will biologically treat sewage from Thessaloniki. A recent protocol placing the Gallikos under the wing of the abovementioned municipalities and other local authorities was signed recently. Other plans for the area, according to Arvanitidis, include mild interventions that will make the delta and sections of the river more accessible to visitors, such as school groups or simple leisure seekers. In short, the people who live on the banks of the Gallikos want to take full advantage of the area’s natural beauty, and they know that in order to do so they will have to protect it. Taking a look back in history, the Gallikos River has always been generous to those living near it, nourishing the land – and even carrying gold which was used by ancient Macedonians to fund their campaigns.