... nor any drop to drink! So runs the tale of Coleridgeâ€™s Ancient Mariner, and so might we empathise when confronted with water surrounding us in all directions and yet a shortage of it in our taps!
The problem faced in particular by the Cycladic and Dodecanese islands is that this area has low rainfall and long dry periods, plus warm temperatures and strong winds throughout the year which cause large quantities of water to evaporate. The situation has been made even more acute this year with average annual levels of rainfall having dropped by around 50 percent.
During August, the daily arrival of 7,000 tourists on Paros needing to drink, to shower and to flush the toilets, resulted in shortages for many households, hotels and pensions, and the Mayor of Paros, together with the Director (Nikos Papaevstadiou) of the D.E.Y.A.P. (our local water authority) have launched a campaign to find a permanent solution. At a national level too, the Ministry of Agriculture is being pressed by water experts to develop long-term strategies of water resource management for those areas of Greece that are experiencing shortages.
Among possible solutions are: shipping water supplies from elsewhere, recycling and desalination - this latter option being the solution employed, for example, in Mykonos. There are approximately 11,000 desalination plants in use worldwide today in 120 countries - mostly in the Middle East - currently capable of supplying 4% of the worldâ€™s population with 15 gallons of water per day. Desalination of seawater is, however, an energy-consuming process and the costs, although decreasing, and the space requirements are both high. There is therefore some incentive for considering the advantages of a dual water system utilising seawater for such functions as toilet flushing and restricting the use of the more expensive desalinated water to essential consumption (drinking, personal washing, laundry, etc).
We await developments with interest, but in the meantime - please heed the message:
THINK ABOUT IT - please donâ€™t waste precious water