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Problémy s vodou v Řecku

26.01.2004  |  126× přečteno      vytisknout článek

Problémy s vodou v Řecku

Will water go round for the Olympic Games?

We cannot ignore the gloomy prediction that, in the 21st century, wars will be waged for water. There is no denying the importance of water to life itself, standard of living, growth, and civilization, for every human society.
In Greece, particularly during the last decade, \"information\" of water shortage and of the need to cut down consumption are becoming increasingly frequent. This issue is always timely, and it is going to come to the surface many times in the next three years. Rumours of scarcity of water raise great concerns, in the face of the Olympic Games of 2004 too. During the Games, the Attica region, which is particularly sensitive to that problem, will be crowded with hundreds of thousands of athletes, officials, and visitors, and the need for water will be at its peak.
The news of water shortage usually conceal the absence of a policy for the sound management of existing water resources, and for the necessary projects. Such a policy should ensure water for agricultural, domestic, and industrial use, and also aim at renewing and enriching water resources.
The thing is that water does exist, in Greece at least. This is shown by the relevant figures, and it is assured by scientific organizations, whose evidence we will call upon for the needs of our survey about water management in Greece.

 

A policy for sound water management is needed

We cannot ignore the gloomy prediction that, in the 21st century, wars will be waged for water. There is no denying the importance of water to life itself, standard of living, growth, and civilization, for every human society.
In Greece, particularly during the last decade, \"information\" of water shortage and of the need to cut down consumption become increasingly frequent. Rumours of scarcity of water raise great concerns, in the face of the Olympic Games of 2004 too. During the Games, the Attica region, which is particular sensitive to that problem, will be crowded with hundreds of thousands of athletes, officials, and visitors, and the need for water will be at its peak.
The news of water shortage usually conceal the absence of a policy for the sound management of existing water resources, and for the completion of necessary projects. Such a policy should ensure water for rural, urban, and industrial use, and also aim at renewing water resources.
The thing is that water does exist, in Greece at least. This is shown by the figures, and it is assured by scientific organizations, whose evidence we will call upon for the needs of our survey about water management in Greece. This survey, far from cliche slogans, comes to certain conclusions:
- In Greece, only 6% of rainwater is used every year for the total annual needs.
- Countries with much lesser water resources face smaller problems.
- About 30% of the urban water supply is wasted due to obsolete, leaking pipes.
- Only one third of agricultural land is irrigated, compared to two thirds in countries with huge water supply problems.

The importance of water management
Water resources include:
1. Surface and underground water, whatever its quality, origin, and use are.
2. Water of natural, land and submarine, springs.
3. Mineral and gaseous water.
4. Processed outflow of liquid waste that can be recycled.
Briefly, the management of water resources can be defined as the constant process of every human intervention in them. Human interventions consist of a group of measures and activities, necessary for meeting every need. This is why scientists place the terms \"water resources\" and \"water usage\" under the broader term of \"water resources management\". In other words, there is the natural sense, as well as the socioeconomic sense, that is the sound distribution of water for meeting all needs.
In 1995, the Central and Western Thessaly Department of the Technical Chamber of Greece (TEE) held an international conference on \"Water resources management.\" Even today, the scientists of the field refer to the conclusions of that conference, noting that the situation has not changed.
The Organizing Committee of the conference stressed, \"The sound management of water resources, on a quality and quantity level, is a very important issue, which has to be dealt with by the Greek state as well. Because of the many dimensions of the significance of water, the policy of water resources management should be part of a broader policy concerning other areas as well, such as natural resources, urban planning, environment, etc. Israel, Cyprus, and the state of California are typical examples, suffering from scarcity of water, and unevenly distributed precipitations, in terms of time and place. There, the water resources policy, both central and regional, is part of the broader policy of their planning and development, and of course the \"water resources - usage\" system is considered as a whole.\"

No figures available!
As for Greece, TEE stresses the fact that we don΄t know the size of available water resources, and, what is more, there are no official figures of water consumption for rural, urban, and industrial use. As a result, there are divergent views, and deviations. It also notes the discrepancies between the Ministry of Agriculture, the Greek Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration, the Ministry of Development, and other organizations, about the precipitations of various regions.
\"However, almost all available estimations agree that the quantity of consumed water is very small (about 6%) compared to mean annual precipitations,\" TEE states. It adds that total water consumption amounts to 10% of available water resources. In other words, we use only 6% of rainwater every year for the total annual needs.
TEE continues by saying that this element itself, i.e. sufficiency of water for the real needs, shows the existing problem and stresses the need for a more wise management of water resources. TEE also mentions other countries, which face less serious problems, although their resources are more limited, and conditions for their development and exploitation are more unfavourable.

Leaks and shortages
As far as the urban usage of water is concerned, the number of households connected to the water supply network has risen from 600,000 in 1961 to 3,300,000 in 1991. Urban and semi-urban areas were covered by 98% in 1991, while the respective figure for rural areas is less than 80% (ETBA figures, 1992). According to a survey of the Greek Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration, 40% of Greek municipalities and communities face water shortage during summer, 7% all year round, and only 33% enjoy water sufficiency all year round (the rest 20% didn΄t give relevant information).
According to TEE, the tourist sector faces problems associated with water usage, such as insufficiency, low quality, illegal use, and high cost.
The Chamber underlines that the problems of the urban water usage primarily concern proper distribution and reduction in losses. Then latter range from 20% to 30%, but in certain cases they exceed 50% of supplied water, due to the age, operation, and maintenance of the pipes, that is their management in general.

 

Tremendous water leaks in pipes

Scarcity of water is a normal and expected phenomenon. There are various patches for reducing the size of the problem whenever it appears. Yet, what is needed is central planning of development, concerning separate regions, or the whole country. Part of such planning should be a programme for managing water resources, because the problem of water shortage lies more in management and less in sufficiency.
This is what George Stournaras said to business2005.gr. Mr Stournaras is

professor of Hydrogeology and Technical Geology at the University of Athens, vice-chairman of the Greek Committee of Hydrogeology, and the Greek representative in the COST 620 European Committee for the protection of underground water against pollution.
Parts of his interview follow:
\"Practically speaking, we talk about water shortage when supply is smaller than our needs. The question is which our needs are, and how they rank. So, the problem can be rephrased in the question of whether there is sufficiency of water in Greece. There are two aspects to this question. The first is pinpointing water resources and estimating their quantity. Usually, we talk about underground water. The second, and most important, aspect is how we will manage the available underground water in the best possible way. This means that, in practice, water shortage is not a question of sufficiency, but of proper management; this goes for Greece, as well as the rest of the world.

- Are there any measures that should be taken as soon as possible?
- A very big problem is leakage and waste. The leakage of city pipes is tremendous, because they are old and worn-out. Back in the 1980s, I conducted a water supply study for the town of Komotini; it was shown that water leakage amounted to about 60% of the supply. 60% of the water that flowed through the pipes was being wasted. It is well known that the Water Supply Company keeps its pipes under high pressure to prevent pollutants from entering the network, because they know that the pipes are worn-out. Yet, high pressure leads to great leakage, when the network is worn-out.
Consequently, as far as supplementary measures are concerned, the gradual replacement of urban water supply networks should be the main concern of the state and the local governments.
Afterwards, we have to deal with issues that are regarded as commonplace abroad, yet we haven΄t even touched them here in Greece. I am referring to what we call \"combined\" or \"alternative\" water usage. In certain cases, water can be used for various, combined purposes. This is what the Public Electricity Company does, by constructing hydroelectric stations: generation of power is one target, and the other (and most important perhaps, according to the Company) is flood-prevention, as well as the massing of water resources for water supply and irrigation. This is an example of combined usage.
Besides, we must deal with the issue of used water, of waste. Even nowadays, factories that use water for cooling purposes dump it afterwards, although it is absolutely clear.

 

The legislation concerning water resources management is inactive

Water deposits are not protected in Greece. It is not unusual for a gas station, a garage, an oil press, or a farm containing fertilizers to be located near a water drill, no matter how hazardous this may be for public health.
Moreover, an underground water deposit may extend beyond regional, and even national borders. In Greece though, if water gushes at someone΄s field, then he or she may exploit it and appear as the owner of the water resource. This is done on the sufferance of the state, which should be exploiting the water resource in order to meet public needs.
These two cases are two aspects of water usage that, apparently, are not dealt with by Greek legislation, which has wide gaps as far as water resources management is concerned, and which remains inactive 13 years after its adoption.

Greece is under the threat of a drought

The prospects concerning anticipated rainfall and the necessary replenishment of the water deposits are gloomy. Various scientific organizations forecast reduced precipitations. This might lead to a new long, dry season, especially if it is combined with a bad policy for the management of water resources.
According to the findings of the Medalus European research programme, Crete will be facing a serious problem of water scarcity by 2010.
Conservation societies mention several statistical figures that have been published during the last years and show a constant decrease in rainfall in the last few decades. In western Greece, the decrease amounts to about 30% compared to 30 years ago. In central and northern Greece, it amounts to 20%, while water needs keep rising. The respective figure for Crete is 10%.
Moreover, the decrease in rainfall is generally higher for the cold period of the year (from October to March), when 80% of the annual rainfall occurs.

The globalization of the problem

Naturally, water shortage does not occur only in Greece and its neighbouring countries. All over the world, large areas are gradually having increasingly serious problems with water sufficiency. More and more people consume substantial time and labour to find water for their needs.
There were only five countries facing serious water shortage in the fifties. Today, this number has risen to 26 countries, with a total population of almost 300 million. Generally, there are 145 countries that are particularly sensitive and experience occasional water shortage.
Various organizations and scientific societies dealing with the issue estimate that 42-43% of the world΄s population will be suffering from water scarcity in 2003, and that the respective figure for 2025 will top 48%. At the end of the next quarter of the century, there will be 3 billion people who will be literally thirsty. Another 200 million people will be added by industrial development, because of the extra water needed for industrial purposes.
According to forecasts for 2050, 66 countries and half the world΄s population (amounting to 9.4 billion people by that time) will be experiencing serious water shortage.

Latest news

The Parliamentary Committee for the Evaluation of Technology met on January 18. High-ranking officials of the Ministry of Agriculture stated their views, and concerns about the water shortage problem were voiced, especially for rural regions.
Several MPs, covering the whole political spectrum, noted the need to create a joint organization that will manage the water resources of the country, since there is a certain overlapping of responsibilities among the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Environment, Planning and Public Works, and the Athens Water Supply and Drainage Company.
The waste of surface water, which vanishes into the sea, was also discussed. There is no suitable network of dams and lake tanks that would enhance the accumulation of water and the replenishment of water deposits. Moreover, it was pointed out that drillings for irrigation water are carried out in increasingly great depths, in order to maximize outflow. As a result, in many cases brackish water is drilled, because fresh water recedes from the underground water deposits and salt water comes in from the sea.
During the meeting, general director of land reclamation of the Ministry of Agriculture I. Papastamatiou noted that GRD 300 billion are still needed from the Third Community Support Fund in order to carry out the necessary projects.

 

ZDROJ:www.business2005.gr


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