World Water Day 2011

More than 2.8 billion people worldwide face daily problems of quality water availability, while climate change has caused a variety of repercussions on the planet's water reserves.

March 28 has been designated by the United Nations as the World Day for Water, and despite the policies applied for conservation and qualitative upgrading of water resources, the outlook remains gloomy

Clean water is becoming a luxury item, and will become even rarer due to climate change, especially in the vulnerable region of the Mediterranean Basin.

Developments in rainfall over the past 60 years have been studied by Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH) professor of hydrogeology Georgios Soulios, based on figures collected by the National Meteorological Service (EMY) and 13 stations throughout Greece.

In recent years, rainfall has literally "gone mad", Prof. Soulios told ANA-MPA, noting that the reduction in annual rainfall ranges from 1mm in Athens to 8mm on the island of Corfu.

The chief problem in Greece is pinpointed in the absence of water resource management practices and excessive consumption.

"Τhe more and heavier it rains, the more that rainfall is reduced with the passing of the decades," Soulios explains.

Apart from the rate of rainfall, its distribution has also changed. More specifically, winter rainfall is on the decline, whereas it is on the rise during the summer when, however, the water evaporates on the surface due to high temperatures, and thus the underground water strata are not supplied.

Greece has water reserves of approximately 30 billion cubic meters that flow both on the surface and underground. Of those, only 20 billion cubic meters are exploitable, of which 12 billion are surface waters and the rest underground waters, says Soulios.

Regarding consumption, of the 10-11 billion cubic meters of water that are exploited in Greece, 80 percent goes to agriculture, 6 percent to industry, and the rest to urban consumption, he says.

Also, of the 10-11 billion cubic meters of water consumed, 80 percent is from underground waters and only 20 percent from surface waters, such as dams, Soulios notes, adding: Consequently, we need to increase the projects regarding surface waters for greater exploitation of the waters, and a turn to alternative sources, such as desalinated water.

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