Water problems persist

Although the weekend’s heavy rainfall was welcome after a three-month drought, this rain has not been fully absorbed into the water table due to excessive construction and was not enough to prevent energy problems this summer, experts said yesterday. More rain fell in two days over the weekend than usually falls during the entire month of February, with rainfall reaching 50 centimeters in the northern suburbs, meteorologists said. But it is unclear how much of this water has been absorbed, the experts said, adding that Attica’s inadequate anti-flood works should be reviewed. «The encroachment of the city upon agricultural land has created massive expanses that are impervious to water,» said Professor Giorgos Tsakiris, director of the laboratory for water resources management of Athens’s National Technical University. «If you turn a forest into a parking lot, it will absorb 15 times less water,» he said. The poor state of Attica’s streams has contributed significantly to the problem, Tsakiris said. «It is a tragic state of affairs. Apart from the rivers and streams which have been blocked with rubble, and therefore provoke floods, most of Attica’s open rivers are dangerous as they have not been properly managed,» he said. Tsakiris placed particular emphasis on anti-flood works, saying current measures are not resilient enough. «We are living in an unstable climate,» he said. One of the rivers of most concern is the polluted Kifissos which is to be the focus of a preliminary investigation by an Athens prosecutor, it was revealed yesterday. The prosecutor is to probe claims by environmental groups that factories are dumping unprocessed waste and rubble into the river. In a related development yesterday, the Development Ministry warned that Greece may face power supply problems this summer because depleted water reserves will prevent hydroelectric power stations from operating normally.