Drought-stricken Cyprus to import water from Greece next week

waterAthens/Nicosia - The drought-stricken eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus said on Thursday will begin importing water from neighbouring Greece next week in order to deal with a severe water shortage.

Agriculture Minister Andreas Polynikis said Greece has agreed to sell 8 million cubic meters of water to Cyprus.

The island's reservoirs have reached dangerously low levels and its two desalination plants are unable to keep up with industry and household demand.

The drought has also forced authorities in March to impose emergency meaasures which include cutting household water supply by 30 per cent in an effort to tackle the shortage.

Cypriot officials signed a contract with a local company, Ocean Tankers, to import the approximately 8 million cubic metres over the summer period.

"We have the capability to transport 50,000 cubic meters daily from Greece," said Polynikis.

He said that the island's water shortage problem was estimated at 16 million cubic metres.

Cyprus, which is heavily reliant on rainfall for water supplies, is suffering one of the worst droughts and water shortages of the past 100 years.

The Mediterranean island's 109 reservoirs are only 9 per cent full and Cyprus' largest dam, the Kouri, is expected to run dry in the next few months, according to the most recent data.

According to official statistics, rainfall in Cyprus has dropped by about 20 per cent over the past 35 years and unseasonal weather has seen temperatures rising above 30 degrees Celsius.

Across the island, water is being pumped out of the earth at an unsustainable pace, mainly by farmers who have had to deal with four consecutive years of water cuts by authorities. (dpa)