Water shortages a looming threat for Greek isles

Tourists crowd into the narrow streets of Oia in Santorini to watch the sunset, in a file photo. Water consumption on the wildly popular Aegean island shot up to 2.36 million cubic meters in 2023 from 929,000 cubic meters a decade earlier.

Year after year, the pressure increases. On the one hand, there is the explosive growth of tourism, followed by an increase in consumption; on the other, there is drought. The small Aegean islands are preparing for the start of the tourist season with their reservoirs empty, their boreholes pumping brackish water, and an increasing dependence on desalination. The first victim of this difficult situation is what agricultural production is left on the islands, according to the doctrine of "water for the people first and then everything else."

In 2023, rainfall in the Aegean will be limited for a third consecutive year. "Especially in the Cyclades and southern Crete, which are the areas with the least rainfall, 2023 was a bad year," explains Kostas Lagouvardos, meteorologist and research director at the National Observatory of Athens. "The last good year for the Aegean was 2019...

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