Drive to cleanse Pineios River

A collaboration between six municipalities from Thessaly yesterday heralded a joint initiative with environmental organizations which is aimed at curbing the pollution of the Pineios, the country’s third largest river, which flows through the northern prefectures of Trikala and Karditsa and is believed to be one of the dirtiest bodies of water in Europe. «The Pineios River has been transformed, over the past few years, from a vital environment, rich in flora and fauna, and an irrigation hub for the Thessaly plain and many local communities, into a channel carrying urban, industrial and agricultural waste, to the detriment of riverside areas and the health of local residents,» municipal officials and environmentalists noted in a joint statement. However, cleaning up Thessaly’s largest river and promoting sustainable development in the areas bordering its banks, will depend upon the active participation of local authorities and residents, the committee stressed. One of the river’s chief sources of pollution is the dozens of landfills operating illegally along its 205-kilometer route. Another is the cocktail of – chiefly unprocessed – urban, industrial and agricultural chemicals discharged into its waters, destroying the river’s ecological balance and leading to the extinction of various species of fish and birds. According to experts, the concentration of chemicals in the Pineios is five times that wherein fish are able to survive. Excessive quantities of nitrogen and phosphorus from the pesticides used in the region’s thriving agricultural sector are chiefly to blame for this degeneration. «Unfortunately our country has not proceeded beyond the adoption of the EU provision aimed at protecting water quality,» Aristotle University Professor Maria Lazaridou-Dimitriadou told Kathimerini. «The law exists but is not being implemented,» she added. Last July, the European Commission threatened Greece with legal action over this shortfall.