Athens sewage water to be reused

The Environment and Public Works Ministry is planning a project to reuse the hundreds of tons of wastewater that are discharged daily from a sewage-processing unit on the islet of Psyttaleia, off Piraeus, sources have revealed. The ministry aims to finance a 2-million-euro study intended to lead to reusing up to 250,000 tons of water from the Psyttaleia plant for the irrigation of parks and green spaces in Attica, according to an announcement by the director of the Athens Water and Sewage Company (EYDAP), Costas Costoulas. The water would be purified before being used for irrigation. The initiative was announced following a meeting between EYDAP staff and members of a group of environmentalists from 16 municipalities in Athens and Piraeus. It would be the first attempt to recycle some of the 900,000 tons of wastewater believed to be gushing into the sea from Psyttaleia every day. But sources at EYDAP concede that there are various barriers. These include the absence of the infrastructure required for the water to be transported and purified. Both the transport of the water and the necessary purification facilities will be costly, according to Costoulas. Another problem is the lack of any legislative framework that would set out conditions for the use of the recycled wastewater. The practice of reusing water from waste-processing plants for irrigation is widespread and well established in countries such as Israel, Tunisia and Morocco, which have serious drought problems. Greece is considerably less advanced in this area. The most recent study of the issue, in 2001, indicated that virtually all no water discharged from waste facilities was reused, with 45 percent running into the sea, 12 percent into rivers, 32 percent into streams and 7 percent seeping into the ground. The one initiative that has been taken in Greece to reuse waste water is in Thessaloniki, in a project launched 10 years ago. This year, some 2,500 hectares of farmland in the broader Thessaloniki area was irrigated by purified wastewater.