The water from Turkey is not enough to meet the TRNC’s needs let alone enough to share with the rest of the island, South Cyprus water authorities have said.
75 million cubic metres will flow to the island per annum, however, “Even though the water that will come from Turkey is a significant volume, it is not enough to cover the annual water needs in the north which is around 100 million cubic metres [a year] let alone share with us”, the acting director of the Water Development Department Andreas Manolis said.
South Cyprus needs 220 million cubic metres of water per year, 75 million of which is produced by desalination plants. In order to share water from Turkey, a second pipeline from the mainland would be needed. This would be a costly move as Turkey paid $500 million dollars for the pipeline which began operating at the weekend.
Referring to the cost effectiveness of desalination plants, Manolis said: “Infrastructure costs alone in order to produce 75 million cubic metres at our desalination plants cost around 200 million euros,” he added, “To this amount we also need to add operational costs. Electricity bills for operating the desalination plants are very high.”
Manolis noted however, that water from desalination plants was fit for immediate consumption, while water from the Turkish mainland required filtration first.
The project in the North, he said, could be more cost effective, depending on electricity consumption and water pumping costs.
He noted that there was one notable weakness in the system:
“An essential weakness of the project is that the north will be over-dependent in only one source of water. In the case of damage due to weather conditions or other factors, they could be left without water even for weeks until the damage is fixed,” he added.
Manolis also pointed out another concern that a variety of microorganisms not found on the island, might find their way to Cyprus via the pipeline from Turkey, consequently affecting the local eco-system.
On the plus side, he said it would however reduce dependence in the North on using boreholes, which is also bad for the environment and which results in poorer quality of drinking water.
“In the north, according to data we possess, they rely heavily on boreholes. Around 95% of their water comes from them,” Manolis said.
He said with the arrival of the water, Turkish Cypriots hope to restrict significantly the use of boreholes as they had over-pumped water from aquifers which had already become salty, he said.
Manolis said that over-pumping of borehole water was also something that concerned the South of the island as well, but that efforts were being made to restrict excessive borehole usage by using recycled water from waste-water treatment plants instead.