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Sustained Drought On Cyprus Shows Severe Water Shortage for Summer

NICOSIA – Unless it rains soon, and is heavy, Cyprus won’t have enough water this summer during the height of the tourism season and when expectations are for more searing heat baking the island.

Agriculture Minister Maria Panayiotou said she would raise the problem with her European Union counterparts in a meeting in Brussels as the Water Development Department Engineer told The Cyprus Mail that, “Cyprus is facing the third lowest inflow of water in a decade this year.”

Cyprus ranks with other countries at risk in Europe, including Greece, Italy, Albania, Serbia and Spain, with worries that an extended heat wave in the summer could make the situation even more critical.

Water levels in the island’s dams and reservoirs have dropped dramatically this hydrological year, and are continuing to do so, with levels at only 43 percent of capacity compared to 66.3 percent in 2023, the paper said.

The total capacity of the island’s dams is 290 million cubic meters (10,241,253,349 cubic feet) but some reservoirs have fallen to below 30 percent and there are fears the biggest dam, Kouris, is drying up as it has hit the 33 percent mark.

The government said it’s looking at ways to conserve water but so far there hasn’t been any widespread ban or curtailment despite the dangers, the focus being on fixing leaks and building a new desalination plant in Moni in Limassol.

In April, the water development department announced a national investment plan with a budget of 1.17 billion euros ($1.27 billion) for 93 projects, 33  deemed as top priority and under construction.

“Drinking water supply is the top priority with the state committed to supplying this at 100 percent,” Economidou said, adding that around 75 percent of this comes from desalination plants, with the rest provided by dams and boreholes.

Cyprus relies on seawater desalination for a large part of its drinking water supply, and five large desalination plants are currently in operation, along with 24 small ones. The large installations are located in Dhekelia, Larnaca, Vasilikos, Episkopi and Paphos, the paper also said.

Farmers could find themselves especially affected and will get only about a third of the water they need for their crops and fields, which could cut into the production of food products as well, and other agriculture.

It wasn’t said what plans were for the tourism sector and whether there would be cutbacks in filling resort or home swimming pools or for watering grass, washing cars or if businesses would have to reduce their usage as well.

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