By Bejay Browne
THE WATER Development Department has forked out €23m in compensation payments to the contractors of a water desalination plant in Paphos left idle over the last three years, according to its director.
Dr Kyriacos Kyrou said it was cheaper for the WDD to pay millions of euros to stop the temporary plant producing and supplying water to Paphos and use water instead from local dams.
He said that as the plant has remained idle for the last three years, annual payments of about €7m have been made to the contractor as a form of compensation.
“There was a water crisis in 2008 as we had four consecutive dry years in Cyprus. We had to import water by tankers and the government at the time decided that all future domestic supply should come from desalination plants,” said Kyrou.
Kyrou explained that Paphos was not part of the ‘Southern Conveyor System’, which connects all the other towns and villages. This network starts at Kouris dam and runs all the way to Paralimni feeding all the water treatment plants and water used for irrigation.
“But this not generally a problem as Paphos usually has more water than the rest of Cyprus,” he said.
Kyrou said that the Paphos desalination plant was only used for about four months and in 2010 a good amount of rainfall resulted in a substantial inflow into the dams, as a result of which the desalination plant in Paphos was put on standby.
“Paphos had enough water, but the plant has been left idle and maintained by the contractors in case there were any more droughts. It has been unused for three years and the agreement with the contractor will conclude at the end of November,” Kyrou added.
The water board director noted that the use of desalination plants is an expensive way of producing water, adding that temporary units are even more expensive than permanent ones.
“We haven’t discussed what will happen to the plant yet, perhaps the contractors will dismantle it and take it away, I really don’t know,” he said.
“We tried to establish it as a permanent plant but were informed that we hadn’t complied correctly with the necessary legal process, including the practice of tenders.”