The water shortage problem in Cyprus was identified in time. Having in mind the small size of the island, we could say that it was also dealt in time, even when things were at the edge during the last period of shortage that ended in 2009.
The present storage capacity of the dams has reached 327,5 MCM of water from a 6 MCM in 1960, when Cyprus became an independent country and since we have official stats and numbers. During 1960-1974 many projects were carried out and many dams were constructed. After the Turkish invasion in 1974, significant projects were achieved, such as the construction of larger dams, sewerage schemes and desalination plans. Cyprus is ranked first in the ICOLD (International Commission on Large Dams) register, in the area of Europe, with a ratio of fifty large dams for every 10 000 square kilometres. From the first one noted, the Kouklia dam, in 1900, one could count today more than 100 dams and ponds all over Cyprus, with another project, the Solea dam, in the Troodos mountain, on the way.
(An idyllic view of the Kouris dam)
Until 1997 the main source of water was rainfall, which was not always enough and was unevenly distributed geographically. So, in times of extended periods of shortage of water measures were taken, mainly cutting off the water supply in certain hours of the day. As a child I remember this as something natural; not that we didn’t have water, but we should be very careful those days of the week.
So it was really weird, especially for younger people, when in 2007 the government was forced to turn to those measures once again, when all of the dams were almost and completely empty (at some point dams were less than 9% full) and were looking tragically deserted like the Kouris dam below.
(Photos by Reuters)
That year one other solution was importing water form Greece, which caused a lot of arguments and criticism, since that was expensive and not that practical. Others looked up the sky; the Orthodox Church called for an all-night vigil on January 18, 2008!
With those measures and lots of luck, after the heavy rainfall of 2009 and 2010, the dams are now up to 50%. Cutting off the water supply is suspended, since Cyprus is looking up to desalination as the permanent solution of this problem. More on that soon.
Cyprus Water Development Department: