Drought emergency on Greek islands
Tourist favorites Mykonos and Santorini among those short of water
Reuters, Aug 1, 2007
ATHENS - Greece on Tuesday declared a state of emergency on the Cyclades islands, including the popular holiday destinations of Mykonos and Santorini, because of water shortages caused by a drought and heat wave.
The interior ministry said it took the decision, which amounts to little more than an administrative procedure, to force officials to speed up work on improving water supplies.
The mayor of the island of Kimolos warned the island was without water and the situation was unlikely to improve any time soon.
"We need help. There has been no water on the island since yesterday," Mayor Theodoros Maganiotis told state TV.
Locals and tourists in the Cyclades have complained of lengthy cuts in water supply after a year-long drought. Greece, along with other parts of southern Europe have been hit by a heatwave over the last week with temperatures reaching up to 115 degrees F.
In Athens alone, where nearly half the Greek population lives, water reserves have fallen by 26.4 percent in July from the same month last year, the capital's water company EYDAP said. At least two people have died as a result of the heat.
For the Cyclades islands delays in transporting fresh water by ship have exacerbated the situation.
"The region is declared today in a state of emergency so as to cut through red tape and speed up public works needed to improve the water supply system," said an interior ministry official who declined to be named.
The barren and sun-baked Cyclades host millions of tourists each summer and have for years demanded action from the government to improve water supply.
Some islands, including Santorini, have started to set up up desalination plants to tackle the long-standing problem.
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