NEWS

Water a scarce commodity

Despite the weekend showers, rainfall in Greece is down significantly in some areas this year and concerns about a possible drought were aired yesterday as a campaign was launched to encourage people not to waste water. Authorities in Larissa, central Greece, which is one of the most intensively farmed parts of the country, said that a third less rain fell during the final quarter of last year, compared to 2006. Rainfall in central Macedonia, another agricultural area, last year was down by 50 to 80 percent in comparison to 2006. «We are entering a very uncertain period in climate terms,» said Christos Karavitis, a lecturer at the Agricultural University of Athens. «We have less water than we expected and we need to start managing this resource much better.» Kathimerini and Skai TV and Radio, in conjunction with the environmental group Mediterranean SOS and the National Technical University of Athens, launched a campaign yesterday in a bid to stop people from wasting water. But Karavitis suggested that efforts from people living in towns and cities alone would not be enough to protect dwindling water resources. «Farming uses up 85 percent of the water used in Greece each year. Another 12 percent is used in urban areas and industry uses the final 3 percent,» he said. «It is clear that if we save a little of the water used for irrigation in our farming sector, it could be a significant help.» Greece’s water reserves currently stand at 745 million cubic meters, compared to roughly twice that in 2006. In 1993, when Greece experienced a serious drought, water reserves only reached about 170 million cubic meters. A campaign was launched then to encourage people to cut back on their use of water as there was only enough to last for 160 days. Experts believe that Greece will start experiencing drought problems by 2025 as rainfall is expected to drop by about 30 percent over the next few years, according to the statistics cited at a conference on climate change organized by Kathimerini and Skai on Friday.