Greek water is trickling away

Greece has one of the highest annual rainfall figures in the Mediterranean, but about a third of the country is close to desertification as farming drains most of the nation’s water reserves, according to data released yesterday. A study prepared by WWF Greece in cooperation with the Agriculture University of Athens showed that Greece benefits from some 800 millimeters of rainfall per year compared to 498mm in Cyprus and 636mm in Spain. Rainfall varies across the country and this leads to different amounts of water available in many areas, the study pointed out. The agriculture sector seems to have an unquenchable thirst that is burdening water reserves. Farmers use 86 percent of water available in Greece. Globally, about 70 percent of water goes to agriculture on average. Waste and bad management of water in the farming sector leads to a series of problems, such as the polluting of surface water, said WWF’s Panagiota Maragou, who is responsible for protected area programs. About 35 percent of Greece is in danger – or already showing signs – of desertification. Another 49 percent of the country is at moderate risk of the phenomenon, which transforms arable or habitable land into desert through climate change or destructive land use. According to a United Nations report also released yesterday, in 2025 some 63 million people in southern Mediterranean countries will lack the basic 500 cubic meters of water per inhabitant per year. Greece has angered the EU over its failure to disclose information concerning its water resources, as specified by an EU guideline. The matter is on course for a referral to the European Court of Justice.