January 22nd, 2019

Life without water

The Facts are all there:  Cyprus faces its worst water crisis in modern history. Methods ranging from water cuts, expanded desalination to expensive imports have been tried but the reality of reduced resources has not managed to embed itself in our consciousness.

A look at the details proves scary reading: just last week the Commissioner for the Environment Charalambos Theopemptou told reporters to expect more heat waves and changing weather in Cyprus. Rainfall for this November just past was at its lowest in eight years with only 19mm of an expected 53mm arriving. Traditionally, November and December record the most significant rainfall and water flow into the reservoirs. All hope now lies on December.

Cyprus cannot rely on rainfall alone to replenish its depleted water supplies, nor fill its reservoirs. Present storage is at its lowest level ever, standing at just 8.8 million cubic metres, or 3.2 per cent of full capacity (273.6 million cubic metres).

Not one drop of November's rain reached the reservoirs, since the average rainfall was only 36 per cent of normal.

The water deliveries from Greece, imported via tankers at a great cost, have done little to alleviate the burden. Though it solved Limassol's potable water crisis over the summer, the process has been dogged by controversy and allegation of mismanagement and less than half of the agreed amount has actually arrived.

Increasing bore holes have resulted in the irreversible process of salt contamination in soils and desalination is both costly and comes with carbon emissions that will see Cyprus slapped with fines from the EU.

And what of the simple solution of saving? Only a handful of municipal councils island-wide, including Paphos, have taken the bold step of pricing this precious resource according to its scarcity - and it works. All the respective councils who have raised the price of water have reported a drop in consumption.

With no national body managing the island's resources and no official water policy, there are depressingly few hopes on the horizon for the future.

Inside today's paper we take stock of the situation as it currently stands. Readers will find reports on desalination and how it will affect consumers' wallets, the troubled history of the Greek water imports and the news from municipal councils.

Source: Cyprus-Mail