The flow of water into the island’s reservoirs is the second worst in a decade, and the resulting dried up beds are revealing the extent of the problem of dumping.
Reserves in reservoirs are standing only at 13 per cent of capacity, according to data from the water development department (WDD) released on Thursday, and rainfall over the past few days has made little difference, according to senior WDD official at Fedros Roussis.
According to Roussis, there has been inflow of around 148,000 cubic metres in the last few days, mainly into the Kouris and Arminou reservoirs.
The total water flow between October 1 to date was 476,000 cubic metres, making this quarter the second worst. The worst, Roussis said, was the equivalent quarter in 1990, when water flow in reservoirs was 460,000 cubic metres.
He added that at the moment, reservoirs are at 13 per cent of overall capacity – the second worst in the past decade and the sixth worst on record. The worst water flow ever, he said, was in 2008.
Roussis said that at the moment no decision has been taken on water cuts for irrigation. If a decision to limit supplies is made it will be in the spring, after the rainy season is over.
Usually, he said, the highest levels of rainfall in Cyprus are recorded in January and February.
Roussis added that no water cuts are expected for domestic use.
In the past, when water flow was very low it was a lot worse as there were no desalination plants, he said.
The low water levels in reservoirs have also revealed another problem, that of rubbish lying on their dried up beds.
The issue emerged after photos of rubbish lying on the bed of the Yermasoyia dam in Limassol, were posted by a visitor to the area on Facebook. The photos show bags filled with rubbish, glass bottles, tin cans, even a chair lying on the reservoir bed.
The municipal authority and the WDD – after being grilled by the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) when it wrote about the problem – tried to dump the responsibility on each other.
WDD official Nikos Neokleous told the CNA that the cleaning of water reservoirs concerns not only the department but also the local authorities in whose jurisdiction they lie. The WDD, Neokleous said, contributes to the cleaning efforts as much as it can.
He added that it is not easy, as many people who go to the dams to fish leave their rubbish behind. A WDD crew is scheduled to clean the reservoir in question next month, he added.
Neokleous said WDD crews clean all reservoirs on a rolling basis and place bins and signs around them to raise awareness of protection of the environment.
Yermasoyia municipal councillor, Christos Papamichail, said that the main responsibility for the cleaning of the reservoir lies with the WDD. The municipality however, would send a crew to the area to clean up, he added.
But to be able to report someone for littering, one must be caught in the act, the head of the Fisheries Department, Marina Argyrou, said, adding that her department is not responsible for cleaning reservoirs. That, she said, is the responsibility of local authorities.
Among the terms of the fishing permits her department issues, she said, is a ban on camping and lighting fires by reservoirs, as well as prohibition of polluting the environment.
Environment Commissioner, Ioanna Panayiotou, urged all competent authorities to take all necessary measures to clean the reservoirs.
In a harsher tone, Greens’ MP Charalambos Theopemptou, said that the country has ‘failed miserably’ when it comes to the management of domestic waste, and as a result, a lot of it ends up in nature.
“On the one hand, we have not offered any solutions to citizens as to the management of domestic waste, but on the other hand Cypriots, for some reason, feel free to throw their rubbish out in nature, especially in rivers,” Theopemptou said.
As a result, he said, the rubbish ‘contaminates the water we drink and the water with which we cultivate our plants’.