Another Asopos, nothing like the polluted river

People in the town of Asopos in the prefecture of Laconia are anxious that it not be confused with its namesake, a river in Viotia that has become notorious for its high levels of pollution from industrial waste. The bad press has created a negative association, but this Laconian town’s problems are of quite a different nature. «Every time we open a newspaper and see ‘Asopos’ in the title, we think they are talking about us,» said Iraklis Tricheilis, the town’s mayor. «We’ve suddenly become famous without anyone ever having written about us.» Neither the mayor nor his municipality’s 4,000 residents would like to receive the same kind of publicity as the people of Inofyta, who are paying for local industrialists’ lack of accountability. «Our area is beautiful and fortunately does not have any pollution,» added the mayor. «We recently took water table samples – we have no surface water reserves – and there were no traces of nitrates or heavy metals, as there are in Inofyta.» The only whiff of pollution in the area comes from the landfill. «We have already closed two other landfills; as yet we have no waste treatment plant. There is only one planned for the whole of Laconia. That is our biggest problem. In my opinion, these projects should be proceeding at the same urgent pace that the Olympic venues were constructed,» he said. Most of the locals are farmers, and the municipality has been classified as an agritourism area. Olives, citrus fruit, figs and grapes, organic olive oil and wine from organic grapes are produced. In recent years, tourism has also been developing. Seaside settlements, such as Plytra and Archangelos, are now popular summer resorts because of the beautiful beaches that have been awarded the European Union’s Blue Flag. The ruins of the ancient city of Asopos are visible on the seabed at Kokkines. «Not that we don’t have problems,» added the mayor. «The coastal settlements don’t have sewage treatment plants or proper drains, but we have applied to have this project included in the Fourth Community Support Framework.»