Cypriots are far more concerned about the quantity of water available in their country than other EU citizens, according to the latest Eurobarometer on water issues.
Virtually all Cypriots (97 per cent) see water quantity to be, at least, a fairly serious problem, compared to 63 per cent of Europeans on average. Least concerned are the Finns with 23 per cent.
Some 68 per cent of Europeans think the quality of water in their country is a serious problem, compared to 84 per cent of Cypriots. The most worried are the Greeks where 90 per cent of people are concerned about water and the least alarmed are the Austrians (26 per cent).Cypriots also consider themselves very well informed about water-related problems, as a result of the island's water shortages. Eight in ten said they feel well informed, far more than the EU average of 43 per cent.
More Europeans (37 per cent) feel the quality of water in their country has deteriorated over the last five years against 30 per cent who think it has stayed the same and 27 per cent who say it has improved.
Three out of four Cypriots believe the quality of water deteriorated compared to 16 per cent in Austria and 48 per cent of Danes. Only 17 per cent of Greeks think water quality is the same as before while 48 per cent of Dutch and only five per cent of Cypriots say it has improved.
Chemical pollution (75 per cent) and climate (50 per cent) are perceived by Europeans as the main threats to water resources in their country.
As many as 85 per cent think climate change will have some impact on water resources in Europe. Water shortages are seen as a great threat to water resources in southern European Member States (73 per cent in Cyprus). Flooding is seen as a greater threat in Member States in northern Europe (75 per cent in the United Kingdom).
Europeans are almost evenly divided on which of the four main expected impacts of climate change in the EU will have the greatest impact on water resources. Some 23 per cent feel it will result in changed ecosystems, 22 per cent in rising sea levels, 21 per cent in more floods, and 20 per cent in water shortages and droughts (a view supported by three out of four Cypriots).
A large number of Europeans say they are taking steps to reduce water-related problems. Some 84 per cent of them have reduced their water consumption, with 97 per cent of Cypriots saying they have done so over the past 2 years, compared to 56 per cent of Romanians.
The use of environmentally-friendly household chemicals is another way Europeans are reducing their household's impact of water. With 78 per cent, Austrians are the most likely to use such chemicals while only 33 per cent of Romanians and 47 per cent of Cypriots claim to do so.
Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas warned that "without enough good quality water our economies and societies can neither thrive nor survive".
"Member States must swiftly take steps to fully implement all EU legislation on water," he added.
The EU requires member states to prepare a plan for the management of water resources to achieve good water quality by 2015, called the River Basin Management Plans. The government is expected to consult the public and interested parties in this process.
Asked whether they were aware of this consultation by the authorities, only two per cent of Cypriots said they were aware and planned to take part, one per cent had already taken part, five per cent were aware but not interested, and 40 per cent were not aware and not interested.
The Water Framework Directive requires member states to prepare River Basin Management Plans for all river basin districts by the end of 2009, with public consultations to start a year earlier. The process is currently on-going in most member states, but relatively few European citizens polled have taken part despite widespread interest.
On April 2-3, a conference is taking place in Brussels focusing on the involvement of interested parties in water management. On April 1, the Commission will publish a White Paper which outlines what the EU needs to do to adapt to climate change.