NEWS

Seven million euros for a year’s water supply

One of the biggest problems faced by Greece’s islands is water shortage (the other is transport), affecting not only the island’s economic growth but the islanders’ autonomy and quality of life. Available water sources differ from one island to the next; some have adequate reserves, others are only partially self-sufficient. And others – such as Milos, Kimolos, Irakleia, Schinoussa, Symi, Halki, Patmos and Megisti – have to bring water from elsewhere. Complete dependence on underground reserves to meet growing needs has led to overdrilling. Current demand is disproportionately greater – both due to population increases and the demand by the tourism industry. Over the last five years on many islands such as Patmos, Symi and Leipsi, demand has almost tripled. Unfortunately, hundreds of wells have been dug to meet the growing demand, drilled into what were already poor underground reserves. These wells have been dug without the benefit of hydrology surveys or any knowledge of the way each water table functions. As a result, both the quality and quantity of the water have been affected, if not completely exhausted. The Aegean Ministry spends considerable amounts every year in transporting water to these islands. The greatest demand is on Milos, Koufonisia, Folegandros, Schinoussa, Kimolos, Symi, Patmos and Megisti. Other islands facing shortages are Aigiali, Iralkeia, Thirasia, Sikinos, Halki, Nisyros, Agathonisi, Leipsi, Leros, Pserimos, Levitha, Palaionisi. In 2004, 7 million euros were spent on supplying water to the southern Aegean alone. (1) This article first appeared in the November 12 issue of K, Kathimerini’s color supplement.