Water shortage worries

Many of Greece’s popular islands are facing serious water shortages and will likely have to ship in supplies this summer because of this winter’s low rainfall. A Cyclades prefecture committee convened on Thursday and examined ways that the region, one of the driest in the country, can prepare for summer. «Natural springs on most of the islands have almost dried up,» Cyclades Prefect Dimitris Bailas told Kathimerini yesterday. Water shortages in the Cyclades area, a group of 220 islands located southeast of the mainland, are common. As a result, water often must be shipped from Attica. Larger islands in the Cyclades include Milos, Myconos, Paros, Sifnos and Santorini. Most of the smaller islands are uninhabited. «Spending on shipping water will need to be more than double that of last year since there will be a need to move water even to larger islands,» the prefecture committee in a statement. Sources said that Sifnos, which normally has its own water supply, is being forced to look elsewhere for the precious resource this year. Milos is also facing problems. «Milos needs about 1,200 cubic meters of water three times a week in the winter period and 2,000 cubic meters every second day in the summertime. Sifnos is now asking to be included in the water transportation program,» said Milos prefectural official Panagiota Kalogeraki. The growing popularity of Milos as a tourist destination in the last six years has stretched its water resources. Most homes have their own storage units but they have yet to fill up because of the low rainfall. Sources pointed out that the region had similar water problems in 2001 and 2002 but government officials have done little to provide improved storage facilities that could help prepare for similar dry spells. «The money that had been spent on transporting water in the last two years was enough for the creation of desalination units on every island,» added Bailas. Greece is also likely to experience water shortages in other areas, such as heavily-farmed area of Thessaly in central Greece, this summer. Officials have told local farmers to plant crops such as wheat, which require little water to thrive.