Aigina Island water supply to finally come true as pipeline goes underwater
July 6, 2019
Aegina Island, located near the capital city of Greece, faces a water supply and conservation problem for many decades. The water management is performed exclusively by the municipal authorities, characterised by a hierarchical approach and the absence of long-term conservation policies, common features in the entire Greek water sector. The promoted solution, for over twenty years, is the construction of an undersea pipeline connecting the island with the network of EYDAP (Athens Water Supply and Sewerage Company).
Today the most important problems of the island are the water supply, and preservation of the environment from the pollution and the preservation of the urban environment and the character of the island from the intense construction activity (Municipality of Aegina, 2011). The island’s water supply is achieved by the simultaneous use of groundwater and drinking water from EYDAP transferred via tanker ships. During the summer months 4 or 5 tanker ships arrive daily at the island with a total capacity of 4000 m3 of drinking water (Kapsalis, 2006).
The Development Ministry Friday announced an ambitious undersea water pipeline project that will connect Aegina island, south of Athens, to the mainland supply network.
The decision had been signed by Alternate Development Minister Stavros Kaloyiannis in early February 2013. Spanning 14 kilometers at depths of up to 90 meters, the water pipe will carry fresh water from the nearby island of Salamina, which is already connected to the capital’s water network.
Officials told Kathimerini that the 23.8-million-euro project will be put to tender by the end of June by the Attica regional authority. “When the pipe is completed, our lives will change,” Aegina Mayor Sakis Sakkiotis told the newspaper.
Some 1.7 billion cubic meters of water per year are consumed on the island, which has a population of 13,000. Water demand is expected to rise after the project is complete.
Water Demand in Aegina Aegina has a population of 13.552 inhabitants but in reality the number of inhabitants is much higher, as to the permanent residents need to be added the seasonal ones, i.e. regular weekend visitors, summer vacationers and tourists of all kinds. The main water users in Aegina Island are:
-The permanent inhabitants
-The seasonal residents and tourists
-Small scale businesses (cafes, restaurants, hotels etc), there is no industry
- A) With water purchased from the network of EYDAP and transferred via tanker ship (Sarantakos, The Aiginaia, 2003, p. 53). According to EYDAP Aegina is outside its jurisdiction, but it is water supplied from EYDAP through major supplies allocated to its O.T.A. (local government), without the participation of EYDAP at the operation of its local network (EYDAP, 2011).
- B) With water from municipal wells that is dropped into the municipal network.
- C) With water from private wells that drop into the municipal network (Sarantakos, The Aiginaia, 2003, p. 53). According to the newspaper Eleutherotipia4 (2004), the water from wells is not sufficient to meet the ever increasing needs of the island. In summer the daily quantities are estimated at 15,000 cubic meters, while in winter the permanent population needs about 9,000 cubic meters. EYDAP in recent years carries via tanker ships about 4,000 cubic meters to the island, blended with locally available, so the water in the taps is not drinkable and residents resort to bottled water.
- D) With bottled water, available via trade (Sarantakos, The Aiginaia, 2003, p. 53). According to the national newspaper Eleutherotipia (2004), EYDAP in recent years carries via ships to the island about 4,000 cubic, blended with locally available water, so the water in the taps is not drinkable and residents resort to bottled water.
Water networks in Aegina
Municipal water network
Tanker ships take water from EYDAP at Salamina Island and transport it to Aegina. The water comes at 4 locations in Aegina, the first is at Perdika, the second is at NOA (Nautical Club of Aegina at the main port of the island), the third is at Agia Marina, the forth is at the port of Leonti. The municipality manages the 4 former communities and the municipality of Aegina (town), each part has a separate water network (Interview representative of newspaper Kalimera Aegina, 2011). The municipality is responsible and manages the entire water system, handles the water bills and the technological infrastructure.
Private irrigation network
The municipality does not have an irrigation network ; farmers buy water from 4-5 private owners that have their own drillings. These private water sellers have their own private superficial pipe networks in the island and distribute the water to the farmer‘s fields. These networks are installed and operate between July-September and then are uninstalled again. The majority of the water is used for pistachio and olive trees, only these two trees can tolerate the brackishness5 of the water . Furthermore, the water supply of the municipality is limited; it provides 1.5-2 m3 of water per hour, while the well-owners offer a water supply of 15-20 m3 per hour. Also, the private water sellers sell the water from 15 to 17 € per hour, depending on the requested hours of irrigation. If the farmers bought EYDAP‘s water from the Municipality they would have to pay per cubic meter with a scalar charge and the price for large quantities is very high (e.g. from 40 to 60 m3 the price is 2 €, from 80 m3 and above the price is 8 €).
The water from EYDAP comes to Aegina Island via private water ships and the continuous water supply of the island depends on them, the prices they set and their collaboration with the municipality. In some occasions the island was left without water and most people are against this way of water supply. For example citizen5 said ‗We depend on the water transporters for having water and it is more expensive this way, if we used our own water the municipal charge (incorporated in the water bill) would not be so high‘.
Municipal authorities are in close collaboration for many decades with another actor, the water transporters that take water from EYDAP‘s network and bring to Aegina via tanker ships. The efficiency of this water transferring process has been questioned by most of the interviewees as it has created a big financial debt to the municipality and the constant dependence on the water transporters for guaranteeing continuous water supply in the island.
The water supply of the island today is based on the existence of wells and the transport of drinking water from EYDAP via water vessels. There is an effort of linking the island with undersea pipelines to Salamina for the final resolution of this problem (Municipality of Aegina, 2011).
The 2001 preliminary study prepared on behalf of EYDAP examined all the alternatives solutions and concluded that the construction of an undersea pipeline for the islands of Aegina and Agistri is advantageous, in both cost and based on qualitative criteria (Eleutherotipia, 2004). The undersea pipeline has a completed preliminary study and all the environmental permits (17 in number) (Nea Epoxi6, Issue 102, 2011).
A crucial infrastructure work is close to come true: The direct water supply of the island of Aigina from the mainland is being gradually completed after the fourth section of the submarine water pipeline went underwater of Friday. The unique project for Greek realities will connect the island of Aigina with Salamina in West Attica and improve the quality of life for the locals and the thousands of visitors each year.
The dream of continuously running drinking water through the faucets in households and businesses, the independence of water bringing vessels and water tanks and “weird” water of desalination has been top priority of locals and visitors for several decades. I was young and grew old to hear every summer when the island population grew ten times about the need of direct water supply. But petty interests did not allow the water supply connection between the mainland and the favorite visitors’ destination in the Saronic Gulf, just 47 nautical miles away of Athens. Finally, the dream comes true.
The construction of an underwater water transport pipeline in Aegina has a budget of € 30,135,000 and is funded by the Regional Government of Attica.
The length of pipeline is 14,225 meters, maximum depth at 94 meters.
Water supply: 21,500 cubic meters.
The launch of the fourth part of the under water pipeline took place successfully on Friday and in the presence of outgoing Regional Governor of Attica, Rena Dourou, the deputy governor for the Saronic Gulf islands, Panagiotis Chatziperos and the Mayor of Aegina, Dimitris Mourtzis.
The laying of the pipeline has started and progresses smoothly, and soon there will be a continuous flow of water on Aigina, outgoing Regional Governor Rena Dourou said in a statement.
“This is a project of high technical requirements and specifications, which satisfies the long-standing need of the inhabitants of the area and is being implemented by the current administration of the Attica Region,” Reina Dourou added.
It is not clear when the water flow will exactly start. Dourou said “Very soon.”
Aikaterini Kalamara MSc thesis Water Supply in Aegina Island: A search for innovation Wageningen University May 2011