January 22nd, 2019

Recent rains a drop in the ocean

Some 1.5 million cubic meters have flowed into dams over the past 48 hours, but experts are calling it a drop in the ocean, warning that the water shortage problem is still very much with us.

The inflow of water followed two days of heavy rainfall across the island, and snow fell on the Troodos mountain range.

Limassol saw some of the worst weather, with fire services there receiving hundreds of emergency calls.But the much-welcome rains will not continue. The Met forecasts a slight and gradual increase in temperatures over the following few days, with overcast skies but little chance of major showers.

Agriculture Minister Michalis Polynikis yesterday described the rains as a "breather for farming.

"But it does not solve our water problem," he said.

To illustrate the point, Polynikis said the 1.5 million cubic meters were equal to the total inflow of water to dams over the last three months.

Alternatively, this volume of water represented about 10 or 20 days' worth of reserves, he added.

"When Nicosia daily uses up some 60,000 cubic meters of water on average, then you can understand that this is no time to be jumping for joy," he told the Mail.

Asked whether the water cuts to households might be suspended during the holidays, Polynikis said this was out of the question.

"The cuts will continue as scheduled. Not only that, but we urge people not to waste water thinking that the problem has been solved due to the recent rains."

A senior technician for the Water Development Department, which manages the island's water resources, seconded this view. He said that the dams' overall capacity has reached 3.6 per cent. Before the rains, they were 3.2 percent full.

He added that the dams at Kouri and Aspropirgos have benefited the most.

"Yet all in all, we're pretty much in the same situation," he said.

Not relying on the heavens to open, the government is proceeding with plans to build two more desalination plants. One will be located at the site of the Vasilikos power plant, with a capacity of 50,000 cubic meters per day; the other at Paphos with a capacity of 20,000.

But the Paphos project has already run into trouble, reportedly after irregularities were established in the agreement with the contractor.

Polynikis yesterday declined to go into detail about these glitches, but said the Paphos desal plant had fallen five months behind schedule.

Construction would begin in January and the facility should be ready by July, he said.

"We are continuing our efforts to ensure an uninterruptible water supply through desalination," said Polynikis.
Source: Cyprus-Mail