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Desalination supply cut on rain bonanza
THE government has decided to cover the country’s potable water needs mainly through reserves rather than through desalination in a bid to save money, it was announced yesterday.
“The lowest possible quantities of desalinated water will be used so as to reduce the burden on the budget without compromising the emergency reserves in the reservoirs,” the water development board said in a written statement.
The decision, taken by the cabinet on Monday, was based on the fact that Cyprus saw above-normal rain in the past autumn and winter with reservoirs in June holding 91 per cent of their capacity, or 264.5 million cubic metres of water.
Rainfall between October 2011 and May 2012 reached 131 per cent.
Some 190 million cubic metres of water flowed into the reservoirs between October last year and this month – the highest since the completion of the island’s big dams in 1987.
Water levels in the island’s reservoirs currently stand at 91 per cent of capacity, compared to 60 per cent at the same time last year.
By the end of January, all desalination units were told to reduce or halt production, in line with the contracts they have with the state.
The Dhekelia unit was placed in reserve between February and April when it resumed operation and has been producing at full capacity since June.
Larnaca cut down production between February and August and is currently in reserve awaiting refurbishment.
The Paphos and Garylis units have been operating as backups since the start of this year.
The water development department expects that 71 million cubic metres of drinking water will be needed this year to fully meet the needs of water boards on the southern conveyor project – Limassol, Larnaca, Famagusta.
The aim is to cover the needs in drinking water mainly through the reservoirs, the department said.
Some 46 million cubic metres will come from the dams, supplemented with 22.3 million cubic metres from desalination and the rest from government wells.
Southern conveyor areas will also receive around 44 million cubic metres of water for irrigation – 37.3 million from dams, 5.0 million from recycled water and 2.0 million from wells.
Speaking after the cabinet meeting on Monday, government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou said under the legislation on unified water management, correct water management had been achieved, allowing both for the supply needed to cover irrigation needs, and potable water.
He also said the government had completed its desalination plant programme, which was capable of covering the island’s needs in the event of drought.
This year’s planning, he added, would save water, allowing for a rational distribution of available water reserves in the dams, the desalination plants and other sources.