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Diversion project for the Acheloos River July 3, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Environment, Nature.

An ambitious program to provide water for intensive farming on the Thessaly Plain raises questions rather than providing answers

The Thessaly Plain is very thirsty, with a water shortfall of nearly 1,500 million cubic meters. But irrigation pipes spew out unlimited supplies that spill over the boundaries of fields to the extent that 70 percent of the supply goes to waste.

The plain of Thessaly, once the country’s breadbasket, is now dying of thirst, as the intensive monoculture of cotton and the waste of water resources, the abuse of fertilizers and other chemicals, as well as subsidies spent carelessly, have all brought about the pollution of the Pineios River, emptied ground water reserves and dried up springs.

An ambitious project for the diversion of the Acheloos River was planned to provide water for the plain, but will only perpetuate the existing situation. The farmers are unaware, or pretend to be, that the water should be paid for, that at some point the subsidies will cease and that there is no future in cotton. Some people are aware, however, the scientists, the experts, and those who were approached by daily Kathimerini to provide answers to 10 questions about the problem. Then there are the politicians who are also aware, and who are in a position to make decisions. Over 25 years of conflict, promises, an outlay of 720 million euros, environmental and social problems and the diversion of the Acheloos has assumed legendary proportions. Perhaps it is time to take a reality check. Thessaly has a lot of cotton fields but not much water. Perhaps, before we bring in water from somewhere else, we should talk about the future of cotton.

The future of Acheloos water > The people of Thessaly have been pushing for the diversion for 24 years; the people of Acarnania have been fighting it with equal fervor. The cause of the dispute: All the water that will be lost to Aitoloacarnania will go to the plain of Thessaly.

* 280 kilometers of river, 17.5 kilometers of tunnel to divert the water into Thessaly;

* The Council of State has rejected the plan six times;

* 3,900 of the 63,000 hectares of the Acheloos Delta are protected by the Ramsar Convention;

* 500,000 hectares under cultivation, 250,000 hectares irrigated (18.7 percent of the country’s total);

* 70 percent irrigated with underground water reserves and municipal wells, 30 percent with surface water; wells now reach depths of 350 meters, compared to 35 meters in 1970;

* Extent of irrigated areas increased by 229 percent since 1962, 46 percent since 1980;

* Water shortage now 1,000-1,500 cubic meters, diversion will provide 600 million cubic meters.

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