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Heavy January rains bring relief from water cuts

Michalis Polynikis, the Cyprus Agriculture Minister, has announced that water cuts will be lifted from today as a result of January’s heavy rains.

ALL WATER restrictions are to be lifted as from today following the wettest January for six years, which has left dams almost 50 per cent full, and ahead of the completion of planned desalination plants.

Agriculture Minister, Michalis Polynikis said: “I am pleased to announce that we are close to resolving this lingering problem, particularly as a result of the desalination plants and recent rainfall.

Reservoirs were yesterday at 47% capacity with 137 million cubic metres from a total capacity of 284 million cubic metres, after a wetter than average January, in which 42 million cubic metres flowed into the reservoirs.

This time last year reserves stood at only 22.4 million cubic metres, or 7.7% of capacity.

January’s rain accounted for over three times the amount that fell in the same month last year, and around 16 times the amount that fell in January 2008. The last January that it was as wet as this was in 2004, when 89 million cubic metres went into the dams.

Polynikis defended the government’s decision to re-impose restrictions a month ago, saying that he wanted to be sure that he could meet future needs of consumers. Now, he is certain that he can do that.

We analysed two scenarios of water influx, taking into account both the completion of desalination plants and increased demand for consumption (compared to 2007) and we found the system can now meet the water needs with continuous water supply.

Nicos Nicodemou, Deputy Director at the Water Development Board, confirmed the cuts will be lifted today. “We have decided that from Tuesday we will lift the cuts permanently,” he said.

He explained added that, with the near completion of a fifth desalination plant near Paphos, Cyprus should have enough water to last until the end of 2011. Next year the Electricity Authority of Cyprus will complete a desalination plant in Akrotiri.

Nicos Zambakides, Head of the Nicosia Water Board, said: “The government has made the right decision, as long as the customers recognise that they need to conserve water. Our plea to customers is to save as much as possible.

In December, water use in all areas increased by an average of 10%, with increases of up to 20 per cent in Nicosia, compared with the same period in 2007 when water restrictions were last lifted. Asked about this marked increase, Zambakides said: “Customers weren’t wasting the water in this time. In most cases they were filling up their tanks (which were less full during the restriction period) Also, the water board based estimated 2009 consumption based on 2008 levels, but there was a 10 per cent increase in population that year.

Nicosia currently consumes around 50,000 cubic metres per day, of which 5,000 is supplied to the north.

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