Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Water management

Well, until now we haven't seen a lot of water. Especially not from all those showers they were forecasting for this week. So we shall have to wait patiently and see if the Gods will not forget us. One thing is for sure, Lesvos is a green island which will not face as many problems as the Cycladic islands. This coming summer they're going to have to import their water by boat, just like they did in the old days. How much does that cost? Seven euros a cubic metre!

The advantage of the drought is that it's easy to drive along all the dirt roads of the island, without worrying about getting stuck in the mud. Yesterday we followed the Sedoundas River from Plomari up to its source, over a breathtaking path that follows the winding river through a wild forest, where for centuries old and peaceful olive groves have slumbered.

Colourful flowers cheer up the dark vegetation. I think that the prettiest of all are the 'Fancy fair-anemones'. I called them that because of their bright pink candy-like colour. They make you think of those fancy fairs where unnatural bright colours predominate. Some colours even hurt the eyes! These 'Fancy fair- anemones' only seem to grow on the higher slopes of the mountains around Olympos.

Just before you reach the source of the Sedoundas River you turn a corner and you see the new Plomari reservoir. Well, a reservoir... There is only just a little bit of water in it. For years already they have worked on it, but it doesn't ever seem to get finished. So what you see is a big basin covered with plastic. The plastic is kept in place by bags of stones that are anchored to each other with ropes. I know that Greeks love plastic, but if this is the way to make a reservoir...

Between Molyvos and Petra there is also a big reservoir. Well, there used to be one. For two years the reservoir has been empty. Not because of a water shortage, but because it was leaking. Black plastic forms the walls for this huge water storage basin. It has become a strange sight: it looks like an enormous sea of black plastic with just a tiny bit of water in the middle and with the usual Greek garbage and some dead animals the farmers throw in. I have no idea if they are going to clean up this eyesore, but this summer some sensible Greeks will regret that it was not repaired.

The Plomarians think their reservoir is useless because they've always managed without it. They think it's a waste of money, but actually it was money from Europe which made it possible not only for the Plomari reservoir but also the leaky one between Molyvos and Petra to be built.

That Greeks can indeed build reservoirs, is proven by the idyllic Plastiras Lake in Thessaly, a region on the mainland of Greece. The dam was built at the end of the sixties and the reservoir not only provides the region with water and electricity, it also turned this region into a tourist place. The Plastiras Lake has popular beaches and water sports and it's a well loved subject for photographers.

So the Plomarians really have to think twice, before they slow down the works at their reservoir. A twinkling blue lake between those great mountains will make a fantastic sight. And besides water and electricity it might also provide for more tourists.

The same applies for the reservoir between Molyvos and Petra, even though it doesn't have an exciting dam, nor a superb position between majestic mountains. Even when there was water inside, it was an ugly sight. The walls clothed with black plastic seemed very unnatural. So for this lake, something more than repairing the holes would have to be done, if it wants to be a recreation area.

Managing water is not a strong side of the Greeks. Nor profitting from big projects. Molyvos and Petra seem to pass up another good opportunity to make their area more attractive. What about a floating restaurant, houseboats or a floating hotel, romantic row boats and a skating rink in the winter?

Copyright © Smitaki 2007

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