Water levels retreat

A dry winter has resulted in many farmers choosing not to plants crops this season as parts of the country are due to face severe water shortages over the summer. According to Agricultural Ministry data seen by Kathimerini, underground water levels, which are replenished every year by snowfall, are currently as low as they were at the end of last summer. Indicative of the winter’s dry spell is the low snowfall and rainfall recorded in the northwestern Pindus mountain region, which dropped to 10 percent of normal annual levels. The Pindus mountain range extends from Macedonia and Epirus to central Greece. The biggest water problems are expected to emerge this summer in Thessaly, eastern Greece and eastern Macedonia, ministry data showed. Recent rainfall in Bulgaria has provided some relief to parts of Macedonia with water levels in the Ardas River improving. A senior ministry source told Kathimerini that the time has come for Greece to upgrade its water network and improve the efficiency of water management. However, few steps have been taken in this direction. The country’s water network is considered to be old, leaky and costly to maintain. The European Commission has pulled up Greece over its lack of a complete water management policy. With a year’s delay, Athens submitted a report to Brussels on the quality of water in the country but sources said the paper was missing vital information. In the central Peloponnese, farmers in Arcadia have decided to plant only 300 hectares of farmland this year as opposed to the regular 1,000 hectares sown every year. Locals estimate that water levels are currently what the area normally sees during the September-October period. In the western Peloponnese’s Ileia district, farmers will be turning away from their farms this year but this is due to the adoption of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy. The change is expected to result in a drop in local water consumption of between 30 and 50 percent.

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