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Polluting the little water we have March 21, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Environment.
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Scientists say the uneven distribution of supply and the dumping of toxins are problems, not sufficiency

Half the country’s population and half its industries are concentrated in and around Athens and Thessaloniki but problems of water quality and quantity are by no means restricted to those areas.

Many other parts of the country are faced with drought and pollution and the story is much the same everywhere, nitrates from fertilizers used in farming, urban waste water channeled into cesspits, wells, rivers and lakes, the salination of underground water reserves in coastal areas and a fall in the level of the water table from over-drilling. The national water management and protection plan recently drafted by the National Technical University of Athens, Water Resources Department for the Environment and Public Works Ministry drew attention, among other things, to the lack of sufficient water measurements, both qualitative and quantitative, so the data available to experts is sparse and fragmented.

Yet the scientists who drafted the plan are fairly optimistic, not to say over-optimistic. They claim that Greece does not have a problem of water sufficiency, but of distribution.

In other words, northern and western areas of Greece have a surplus, eastern and southern areas a shortage. Most industries in Attica illegally dispose of their wastewater into the drainage network, the Kifissos River and other water courses. The Ano Liosia landfill site is also a source of water pollution, as is the disposal of urban wastewater in cesspits. Any agriculture still existing in the region also affects the ground water. Generally the deterioration of ground water means that it cannot be used to supply homes, and potential reserves are not enough even to meet irrigation needs.

In northern Greece, there are the same problems of nitrate pollution and excessive reliance on lake water. Western and Central Macedonia are believed to have sufficient supplies of water; any pollution is attributed to urban wastewater, farming and livestock breeding. Eastern Macedonia is considered to have abundant supplies of water; pollution is from nitrates used in farming.

In Thrace, there is a marginal sufficiency that depends to a great extent on Bulgaria, which manages the waters of the Nestos and Evros rivers. The eastern Peloponnese does not have sufficient water and the problem is getting worse. Eastern central Greece is facing similar problems, particularly in the summer. Western central Greece and Epirus have the most water in the country, and Crete too is still self-sufficient.

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