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Pissouri report this month

Home owners living in the Limnes (lakes) area of Pissouri met yesterday to hear what progress was being made to resolve the land slippage problem causing structural damage to their properties.

pissouri_housing_initiative-_groupA TEAM of geologists should have a study on the Limni area in Pissouri ready by the end of this month looking into how to combat the land slippage problem, according to Animal Party head Kyriakos Kyriakou.

Although the interior ministry could not confirm this, it recently announced it was investigating the matter and looking at measures it could implement such as expanding infrastructure that channel rain water away from the area and drilling new wells to monitor the underground water.

“Three homes have already been demolished, while new cracks appear every day at the others,” said Kyriakou, who is involved in the Pissouri Housing Initiative Group (PHIG). Homeowners have appealed to the government for help as several houses sustained structural damage due to land slippage such as cracks in interior and exterior walls, swimming pools, roads, pavements, footpaths, retaining walls, drains, water pipes and other infrastructure.

“Each new crack sounds like shooting that can shake us out of bed in the night and every morning we inspect every inch of our homes to see if the cracks and rifts have grown.”

About 50 homes have been affected and in the meantime, they are in a race against time wanting to know when and how their problem will be dealt with.

“We fear that the summer drought will lead to further subsidence of the ground and we fear that the next rain will penetrate the already affected foundations of our homes.”

The ministry said the problem in the Pissouri area was mainly due to the underground water, which is close to the surface, in combination with the geological conditions of the area.

“The ground, up to a depth of 16 metres, is made up of loose material that came from past landslide in the wider area,” the ministry said in a written statement. “The ground morphology does not allow the water to escape, as the area’s name ‘Limnes’ (lakes) denotes.”

Editor’s comment

I attended the meeting yesterday where we heard from Peter Field, the chairman of PHIG, that a Cypriot family with young children could be made homeless in a matter of weeks if the problem isn’t rectified.

Mr Kyriacou advised that he had spoken with the chairman of the relevant parliamentary committee, Dr Adamos Adamou MP. He is aware of the issue and will be visiting the area next week to see for himself the problems and talk to the group. Dr Adamou has given his assurance that the matter will be discussed by the Environmental Committee by the end of September.

The British owner of one of the houses I visited said that they’d had no problems until February this year when a large sinkhole appeared overnight in their front garden. Since then cracks have opened up in many of rooms of their house, which continue to to expand. She told he how she lay awake at nights listening to the sound of her house groaning and cracking.

The Cypriot owner of a recently built property told me how her house had started to sink and that she was in litigation with her developer to recover her money having discovered that her property had been built on on a ‘lake’.

A report from the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment to the Pissouri Community Council some years ago recommended the construction of a suitable drainage system for rainwater, which will cover the whole “Lakes” area, together with possible other flood control projects.

This recommendation was never implemented.

Readers' comments

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  • Steve says:

    As I understand it, the builders, the architects and their clients are responsible for surveys, including soil core samples, to determine that ground is suitable for housing development. There is no free service in Cyprus to do this. Now the costs of trying to save the development will be more than the value of the buildings. In other words, there will be sympathetic noises made, but no money spent.

    I wish the residents a lot of luck.

  • Deanna says:

    “The ministry said the problem in the Pissouri area was mainly due to the underground water, which is close to the surface, in combination with the geological conditions of the area..”

    No. The problem is that a building permits should never have been issued for this land.

    Sue the developers

  • Josh says:

    Hi Nigel,
    When that geological report was issued in December 2012 the Muhktar at that time was Christos Foutas (ref the Cyprus Mail article “Meeting the Muhktar of Pissouri” 13/11/06) however at the time that the report was issued and until Foutas was replaced, he had 5 council members who would not work with him, did not attend meetings and so this is probably why nothing was done.

    Also I have it on good authority that one owner in the Limnes area was told by the builder, not the developer, as his house was almost completed and final payments made, “you do know this is above an underground river”

    It looks as though the chickens could be coming home to roost.

  • @Steve R on 2015/07/18 at 8:16 am – To avoid any confusion, the properties at Pissouri have not been built on bentonite.

    I published an article nearly 8 years ago on the bentonite and m̩lange landslides problem РDown the slippery slope.

    Another one about the problems in Nata – Cowboy Builders investigate British developer (that was investigated by Dominic Littlewood and his team).

    And a third one – Are the authorities waiting for a tragedy like Aberfan?.

    According to the Cyprus Geological Survey Department, engineers and geologists engaged by developers (and others) are responsible for ensuring the stability of any structure and its surrounding area. If problems arise, buyers must persue their case through the courts; landslide is a natural hazard and properties built in these areas are uninsurable.

  • Steve R says:

    HOULOU – Our small site of 7 properties were built on Bentonite. This material expands when it becomes wet. It has such force that it can lift footpaths, walls and even swimming pools. The only way to stop this is by mass weight. The properties are built on a very thick concrete slab to the house don’t move a lot. This material is a clay like substance so when the top 6 inch becomes saturated it starts to run off the surface like liquid mud. Rivers of everywhere. The land slips away every year up to 2 cm.

    We have been told by an independent surveyor that the houses should never have been built on this ground. It was easy to find a geological map of Cyprus showing areas of high Bentonite, ours being one of them. The planning department still gave permission for the development to go ahead.

  • @houlou on 2015/07/17 at 5:54 pm – The properties (with the one exception of the newly built one I mentioned) were built between 18 and 20 years ago. The investigation wasn’t carried out until 2012. So there was no knowledge of the problem at the time the properties were built.

  • houlou says:

    So the authorities knew the morphology of the ground was not ideal to build on, yet gave planning permission etc?

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