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Water poverty at its EU highest in Cyprus

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Cyprus is the most water impoverished nation in the EU with the island’s needs vastly outstripped by its only source of natural supply: rainfall, the agriculture ministry said on Tuesday.

Permanent secretary of the ministry Andreas Gregoriou warned that Cyprus is in a permanent state of water scarcity as the semi-arid region suffers from frequent and extensive droughts.

“Climate change has already affected our region with rainfall significantly reduced, with over 40 per cent reduction in surface water runoff,” he said.

Gregoriou emphasised that EU policies have a major role to play in Cyprus overcoming these challenges.

Speaking at a press conference, centred on energy saving, he specified that greater sustainability can be achieved by adhering to the water framework directive, the floods directive, and the directive for the treatment of municipal wastewater.

Other ways of addressing water source reliability concerns are by tapping into desalination and by reusing water.

He explained that desalination has played a pivotal role in alleviating the burden on drinking water capacity posed by the urban, suburban and tourist zones.

Gregoriou explained that the state is now looking at ways to integrate renewable energy into the desalination process.

But he warned that climate change is exacerbating water scarcity, meaning that the measures needed to tackle the challenge must be adopted within a wider and more integrated environmental policy.

He concluded by saying that reusing water has been a policy for 20 years now, stressing that it provides significant protection against drought and reduces the dependence of water supply on weather conditions.

It is also a key measure within the wider strategic objective of climate change adaptation and risk prevention, water balance management and circular economy.

Earlier this month, the water department announced that dam capacity this year so far is a cause for concern as it is almost 20 per cent less than the previous year.

The latest data from March 22 show that dams are at 69.4 per cent capacity, while last year during the same period they were at 89.1 per cent.

The department said that a total of 202 million cubic metres of water entered the dams, 59 million cubic metres less than last year.

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