Drought-hit Cyprus starts emergency water rations|
Mon Mar 24, 2008 11:43am EDT
NICOSIA (Reuters) - Cyprus on Monday ordered emergency water rationing and
imports from Greece to cope with a growing shortage exacerbated by a fourth year
The east Mediterranean island faces an unprecedented water crisis which has
seen reservoir reserves plunge dangerously low and desalination plants unable to
cope with growing demand.
On Monday, the island's reservoirs were 10.3 percent full. Rainfall has been
minimal since 2003.
"Cuts are essential to cover the needs of the population," said government
spokesman Stefanos Stefanou. "This is an extremely grave situation."
Authorities said they would cut water supplies to district distribution
networks by 30 percent. They would also seek water imports from Greece, likely
to occur in the next five months, Stefanou said.
The cut in water supplies means households will have running water for eight
hours every two days to refill deposits.
Such measures have not been imposed since the 1970s and 1980s, when Cyprus
was exclusively reliant on rainfall and underground water deposits for its
Desalination introduced in the 1990s staved off rationing, but rising demand
and dwindling rainfall has put pressure on scant resources.
Official accounts suggest rainfall in Cyprus has fallen by about 20 percent
over the past 35 years, a decline experts attribute to climate change.
On Sunday and Monday, temperatures on the east Mediterranean island scaled
some 14 degrees higher than normal to 34 degrees Celsius, (93.2 Fahrenheit)
while the island was covered in thick clouds of dust billowing in from north
The Met Office described the scale of the rise in temperature as
unprecedented for March. Temperatures were expected to fall by eight to 10
degrees on Tuesday.
Cyprus has two desalination plants running at full capacity, and a third is
due to come on stream in June.
(Editing by Mary Gabriel)
Original article: Reuters
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