Cyprus Mail

Low rainfall means greater reliance on pricey desalinated water

The opening of the Episkopi desalination plant in 2013

Producing water from desalination plants is going to cost the state around €50 million this year, around €10 million more than last year.
“Though this is more than last year the situation is not dire. There have been worse years,” director of the water development department Andreas Manoli said on Monday.
“We will not cut drinking water, and we will try not to limit the water for irrigation,” he added. The plan is to give farmers the same amount of water as last year. All the desalination plants will work all year round, the director said.
“If the situation next year is the same like this year then we will have to take other measures.”
Reservoirs are currently just 34 per cent full, compared to 57.1 per cent at the same time last year. By far the biggest dam, Kouris is at just 16 per cent capacity compared to 36.6 per cent at the same time last year.
The situation deteriorated in the months when it usually rains most, January and February, though other months didn’t fare much better. In January the rainfall was 3,685 million cubic metres, and in February just 2,825, while the figures for 2015 were 38,354 million cubic metres and 44,515 respectively.
Since the beginning of October 2015, a mere 17,889 million cubic metres have been collected in the reservoirs in total.
In February, Agriculture Minister Nicos Kouyialis had pledged not to cut the drinking water supply this year. At the time, he announced the government was implementing a comprehensive strategy for water management, including the transfer of water from desalination plants and water recycling, because of the growing threat to water supplies from global warming.
The agriculture ministry has set the goal to make use of all recycled water produced in urban wastewater stations within the next seven years.
According to the water development department, the first desalination unit was built in Dhekelia in 1997 and expanded in 2008 and 2009. In 2001, a second plant started operating in Larnaca. Another one was constructed in Moni in 2008 and an additional two units were added in 2012 and 2013 in Vassiliko and Episkopi.
Meanwhile, a mobile desalination unit in Kouklia in Paphos that cost €30m will be disassembled within the next three to four months after hardly being used over the past three years.
The decision to install a mobile desalination unit by the Xeros River in Kouklia was taken in 2008 when the island was experiencing an extended drought and water had to be brought in from Greece with tankers to meet demand.
The plant was installed in 2010 and was almost never in operation as Paphos’ water needs were met by supply from the Asprokremmos dam.

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