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Going Green and Save Water in Greece

Sep 10, 2008
In Greece, conservation of water has never been more important than now. Use Less, Conserve More! Ex pats living in the Greek Islands can support the natural ecosystems - planting of more vegetation by way of grasses and trees, promote wildlife habitat, and be more economical in using less water overall, especially in the home and garden.

On Greece's many islands, water is the main environmental issue, or I should say: the lack of it. The ordinary inhabitants on Greece's biggest island, Crete have gotten used to the Summer and early Autumn months of drought when water pressure in the mains can drop due to the copious amounts used by millions of visiting tourists in the many vacation resorts.

Inevitably, this situation leads to cuts in supplies to ordinary residents in the surrounding towns and villages during the hot summer months.

Crete will be facing more prolonged and much more serious drought conditions even in winter by the middle of this century, according to the weather pundits. This prediction is the result in the shift in climate patterns.

Rainfall in the winter of 2007/8, for example, was less than usual in quantity and distribution across the whole Island of Crete. This resulted in further depletion of subterranean water supplies. All residents - from the local Cretans to ex pats can do their bit to conserve water consumption. Hopefully this will prevent the imposition of a more restrictive water usage policy beyond the current banning of hosepipes.

Residents in the Greek islands can only hope they do not reach the status of Cyprus, where tanker ships had to carry fresh water supplies every week from Northern Greece to Larnaca during the Summer of 2008.

Here are some ideas to contribute to water conservation in Greece. You may adapt them to your location, as well:

1. The old chestnut: Do not run the tap continuously when brushing your teeth (that will save approx 5 litres a minute per brushing).

2. Save your tap from dripping - its usually requires no more than a change of washer.

3. If you have a dishwasher - only use it only when you can fill it for a wash cycle with a full load.

4. For coloured items in the washing machine - turn the heating control to minimum, or turn it off altogether. Inevitably less water will be consumed - and of course less electricity. Another thought: the
spindrying cycle is less important in Greece for most of the year. Washing dries faster in the drier climate with its typically lower humidity.

5. Water the garden with dirty water from the kitchen sink. The suggestion is to keep a bucket in the kitchen near the sink. In the sink maintain a plastic bowl. (Don't use bleach or strong cleaners though.) When washing anything from fresh vegetables to crockery, do so in the bowl. After each wash is finished pour the left over water into the bucket. When bucket is full take it to the garden. If you have an old storage tank there, fill it up or pour directly onto your vegetable patch or other pot plants. This is best carried out when the sun sets. The evaporation rate into the air will be less and more of the water will seep deeper into the soil.

6. While it is generally understood that showers use less water than for a bath, there's a catch. If you have bought a "Power Shower" the reverse is true. They can consume more water than a typical bath if run for more than 5 minutes.

7. Only fill the kettle or jug with enough water to boil in order to make the required cups of hot tea, coffee or cocoa.

8. Leftover tea and coffee - whether in bags or as leaves/grouts contain useful acids and tannins that are good to fertilize garden plants. Both beverages are good for a whole range of acid loving species that include Bouganvillea, Tradescantia, Rose Bushes, Azaleas, Orchids and African Violets (although use coffee sparingly for the Violets).

9. All over the upland areas of Crete you can see old bathtubs in open pastures to keep water for the sheep. Using the same concept for your garden, any large outmoded container, especially if it has a top to it, can store water. Even better if you can half bury the water holder in the soil to keep the water from boiling and to save the walls of the container from being corroded by the harsh sun.

10. If you happen to take a bath, consider siphoning the leftover water off into a container - to water your plants on the patio and around the house.

In the arid Greek islands, every drop of water counts, particularly in summer. If you face the same circumstances, remember - cutting water usage in the home also cuts domestic running costs.
About the Author
Gerald is a British ex pat who lives in Crete's Lasithi prefecture in a village with its own underground fresh water supply. He is also webmaster of the Brits in Crete web portal. which has a Greece Community Forum, with a section on the Crete Environment that includes gardening, making Greece greener and more.
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