Though the water situation is serious, the drinking supply will not be cut, Agriculture Minister Nicos Kouyialis said on Thursday.
Water levels in the island’s reservoirs are currently on average 26.5 per cent compared to 38.2 per cent this time last year. Kourris dam, by far the largest, has a level of just 18.5 per cent compared to 32.8 per cent at the same time in 2015.
Kouyialis said Cyprus currently had the capacity to produce all the drinking water it needed from the existing desalination plants.
“It’s a cost issue, the production of water from desalination plants is very expensive, more than €1 per cubic metre [each cubic metres is 1,000 litres] and we cannot produce or consume water thoughtlessly,” he said.
The minister told a news conference, the lack of water was a timeless problem due to prolonged periods of drought, and climate change.
This problem will worsen, he said, since the area of the south-eastern Mediterranean would be impacted most from global warming.
Kouyialis said announced the government was implementing a comprehensive strategy for water management in view of the situation.
A priority, he added, was to solve the temporal water supply problem of greater Nicosia by transferring water from the Vassiliko desalination unit.
At the same time, there was a focus on the maximum utilisation of recycled water as an alternative resource for the provision of reliable quantities for irrigation.
The agriculture ministry has set a goal to make use of all recycled water produced in urban wastewater stations within the next seven years and within this framework has drawn up a programme with a series of processes and works to set up the required infrastructure.
“Our goal is to add 60 million cubic metres of treated recycled water for irrigation purposes. This means that we can provide 25 per cent more water for agricultural purposes,” Kouyialis said. The vast majority of all water used in Cyprus goes on irrigation, with supply coming from the reservoirs.
The first phase for the recycling process will be the construction of a reservoir, pumping stations and a pipeline in Anthoupolis and phase two the construction of two dams, one in Paliometocho and another one in Tersefanou.
Replying to questions the minister said that the recycled water would be about the same amount that the Turkish pipeline can carry for a year.
He added that water from Turkey that is piped to the north would not solve Cyprus’ problem as the needs far surpass what the pipeline could deliver.
As far as 2016 was concerned, though domestic supplies would not be cut, there could very well be an issue for irrigation given the low levels of water in the reservoirs.
“I have the impression that farmers will receive approximately similar amounts to previous years, but the situation is really serious,” Kouyialis said. “We will see how to deal with the problem.”