By Constantinos Psillides
Water cuts for farmers in the summer are a possibility as drought persists, according to Water Development Department (WDD)head Kyriakos Kyrou.
Speaking to the Cyprus News Agency, Kyrou made clear that 2014 would be a difficult year due to the limited flow to reservoirs, although he made clear that if there were any water cuts they would only affect irrigation.
Reservoirs are currently just over half full.
January and December are considered the months with the heaviest rain, but so far this month there has been zero recorded rainfall. According to figures released by the WDD a mere 3 per cent of the expected rainfall has materialised so far this month.
Asked by the Cyprus Mail, Deputy head of WDD Andreas Manoli made clear that the water supply won’t be affected. “There is no way we are cutting water for houses and businesses. If any water cuts should occur, these would be strictly for irrigation,” he said, adding that final decisions on the subject would be made in March.
Manoli still hopes that water cuts won’t be necessary at all.
“Things look bad right now but sometimes, by the end of the season, God has pity on us and helps. We just have to wait and see,” he said.
Agriculture minister Nicos Kouyialis was also asked by reporters to comment on press reports that the government was considering buying water from Lebanon.
Kouyialis denied the reports, adding that he recently met with the Lebanese minister of energy and no such topic came up in the discussion. “This government will not be involved with transporting water from Lebanon, or the Moon, or Mars for that matter,” Kouyialis said, adding that if Lebanon is interested in tabling a proposal he would gladly hear it but no such proposal has been made so far.
However, on November 8 Kouyialis said after the meeting the Lebanese minister that a proposal was tabled regarding transporting water from Lebanon. Kouyialis was also quoted saying that a joint technical committee was set up between the two countries to study the issue. The Cyprus Mail yesterday contacted Kouyialis regarding his conflicting remarks. The minister answered that what he meant was that “no serious proposal” was made by the Lebanese government. “They said they would come back but didn’t. So, we don’t have an actual proposal. In any case, the state won’t consider signing a contract with private companies. We are only interested in a possible agreement with Lebanon. No such proposal was made so far”, he said.
In his statement to the CNA, Kyriakos Kyrou said some kind of measure must be taken. “The last two years have been really good when it came to rainfall but 2013 wasn’t a good year. On top of that, water consumption has risen this year because farmers had to water their crops in winter,” he said.
In 2008, the Christofias administration had to buy water from Greece, after a long drought led to extended water cuts all over the island. The WDD then signed a €35 million contract with the shipping company Ocean Tankers to transport the water.
After public outcry, the state decided on moving on with its desalination plants policy, which was kept in the drawer since the Papadopoulos administration.
Besides mobile, small desalination units (used mainly by hotels) three desalination plants are currently able to handle Cyprus water supply needs.
Desalination of sea water was first introduced in April 1997 with the operation of Dhekelia desalination plant which has a nominal capacity of 40.000m³ of water per day. This plant serves the needs of the free area of Famagusta and part of the needs of Larnaca and Nicosia.
The plant was upgraded in 2008 and in April 2009 to reach the capacity of 60.000m³ of water per day.
In 2012 a plant was created near the village of Moni, to cover the Limassol district water supply needs. The plant has a capacity of 40.000m³ of water per day, with the capability of being upgraded to 60.000m³.
The latest addition to the desalination plants is that of Vassiliko, owned and operated by the Cyprus Electricity Authority. The plant has a capacity of 60.000m³ of water per day.
The WDD also started construction on a desalination plant in Larnaca, expected to be operational in 2015.
Manoli told the Cyprus Mail that Cyprus’s water supply needs were completely covered by desalination plants and that the Larnaca plant was merely a back up.