Water in Cyprus’ reservoirs stands at 58.5 per cent of capacity, considerably lower compared with the same time last year and will decrease further until October and November when the first rains are expected, the Water Development Department said on Thursday.

Senior technical engineer Marios Hadjicostis told the Cyprus News Agency that the water department was trying to ensure that all needs were met, including water in the dams for firefighting.

He said capacity usually starts to go down after May each year.

“Because last year the inflows were not satisfactory, we are at a lower capacity this year,” he said. “This time last year we were at 79.6 per cent of capacity.”

But the situation was not tragic, Hadjicostis said. Compared with August 1, 2022, this year’s reserves were just a bit on the lower side.

On the issue of firefighting, Hadjicostis said last Sunday when there was a fire in the Palaichori area, firefighters were taking water from the Klirou dam, which was close by.

He added however that the quantities use for firefighting were “negligible” compared to the quantities of water that evaporate from the reservoirs, especially in the summer.

He said that firefighting helicopters and planes take in about 4-6 cubic metres of water at a time. There are 1,000 litres in a cubic metre.

By comparison, the Kouris dam, the island’s largest, can lose 15,000-20,000 cubic metres per day to evaporation, especially at this time of the year and especially during extended high temperatures. In winter, 5,000 cubic metres a day can evaporate from the Kouris dam, he said.

Hadjicostis said the water department had also seen increased requests from farmers to grant them bigger supplies of water for irrigation.

“That situation is difficult. If we give more now, we could make the problem worse next year.”

The quantities of water given to farmers are set by the council of ministers and the water department cannot violate these just because the farmers request it due to the heat, he said.

Hadjicostis called on the public to save water, including not overusing it for irrigation of plants.

“Saving water should become a habit all year round and not only in certain periods,” he said.