Irrigation challenges in NW Greece-Perspectives and solutions for flood prone areas

D. Serbis, C. Papathanasiou, and N. Mamassis, Irrigation challenges in NW Greece-Perspectives and solutions for flood prone areas, 14th International Conference on Environmental Science and Technology (CEST2015), Global Network on Environmental Science and Technology, University of the Aegean, 2015.



Multiple water needs in rural areas together with poor water resources management are often posing serious threats to the environment and can cause rapid depletion of water resources. Irrigation, an activity that accounts for 44% of total water use in Europe, a share that can reach up to 80% in parts of southern Europe, is significantly affected by water scarcity with far reaching social, economic, environmental and demographic impacts. In many rural areas excessive groundwater use for irrigation in conjunction with obsolete water practices are among the key factors responsible for the depletion of water resources. Significant water losses also occur through outdated irrigation networks and structural deficiencies on water conveyors. Moreover, environmental hazards are intensified in agricultural areas lacking appropriate flood mitigation structures. In these cases, during flood events, fertilizers and other contaminants are easily spread over large areas posing permanent treats to ecosystems and natural resources. This paper presents a holistic water resources management approach towards adequate flood protection of rural areas, while at the same time reversing the depletion of overexploited local underground resources. More specifically, a series of technical works including two interconnected reservoirs and a number of small detention ponds are proposed to protect an irrigated area of 1.900 ha which is frequently devastated by floods. Water from the detention reservoirs will also be used to cover irrigation needs of the cultivated areas, which currently overuse underground resources. At the same time, reservoir water will be used to irrigate an adjacent area of extra 1.900 ha, with no other available water recourses, thus extending arable land to 3.600 ha in total. It is also proposed to exploit the considerable height difference (275 m) between the two reservoirs for electricity production. Stopping water pumping for irrigation will return groundwater table to its natural level, a process which is expected to take several years to complete. A list of other structural and non-structural measures is also proposed to further improve water management in the area.

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