NEWS

Water wasted at all levels

Greeks, who are second only to citizens of the USA in per capita water consumption, have a lot of work to do to save the precious resource, according to a study by professors of Athens Agricultural University that lists a number of serious problems. According to another study, published by UNESCO and conducted by Dutch academics A.Y. Hoekstra and A.K. Chapagain, each Greek has a «water footprint» of 2,389 cubic meters of water annually, just behind the Americans with 2,483 cubic meters. This is the volume of water needed for the production of goods and services consumed by the country’s inhabitants. Total consumption in Greece is given as 25.21 billion cubic meters annually. Greek academics, including the Agricultural University’s Andreas Karamanos, N. Derkas and P. Papastylianou, note that 50 percent of the water used in agriculture is wasted. Cotton production in Thessaly, for example, consumes 21.2 to 35.6 percent more water than necessary, while for the cultivation of corn, the waste is between 38.6-48 percent. Thessaly’s potatoes get between 57.1-66.7 percent more water than they need. Too few farmers use the more efficient drip method. Other problems include: badly maintained infrastructure, allowing 30-40 percent of purified drinking water to be lost; some 200,000 illegal boreholes, which deplete underground water supplies, allowing sea water to enter the water table; and the extensive use of fertilizers has polluted the water table. Furthermore, people are not encouraged to conserve water: Farmers are charged very little money (if anything), whereas people wanting to build a cistern to store rainwater have to get a building permit, which is costly in terms of time and money.