Dams in Cyprus overflow in all-time record

Dams in Cyprus overflow in all-time record

Water reservoirs in Cyprus have been filled in all-time record, according to a report released by the country's Water Development Department​ (WDD) on Wednesday, January 8, 2020. The report was released after two more of the largest reservoirs reached full capacity and water flooded over the dam walls. This is the first time that water reserves have been so high in January, forcing dam after dam to overflow.

Kouris and Evretou dams overflowed between Tuesday and Wednesday, January 7 and 8. The Polemidia reservoir burst on Wednesday as well for the second year in a row. Several smaller dams, particularly in Paphos, have also reached full capacity during the past several days.

WDD senior engineer Marios Hadjicostis said this was the first time that reservoirs have been so high in January, triggering dam after dam overflow. He said heavy rainfall and existing high water levels in October 2019-- the start of the rainy season-- were the two factors that contributed to the dams' bursts.

"Usually the dams overflow around March or April but this year because of the high water reserves due to last year’s rainfall we had overflows in January," said Hadjicostis.

In addition, water levels in reservoirs were already at their highest ever January figure-- more than 96% full with that figure expected to reach 99%.

Residents of Kalavasos village are among thousands suffering after weeks of heavy downpour caused the Kalaasos reservoir to burst on January 6, submerging their road.

According to residents, this is the second time in 50 years that so much water submerged the road. One of them said the last time the flood was the worst was before the dam was built.

"The road will not empty until March, or at least late in February," one local said. "Now that the dam overflowed, water will continue to come down from the hills, even if the rain stops."

The overflow also led to the collapse of the support wall of the village's ring road. Around 12 houses were evacuated after families lost access to water or electricity. However, five families decided to stay in their homes despite authorities' efforts to displace them, said Larnaca district officer Odysseas Hadjistefanou.

Kalavasos community leader Lefteris Foka said crews of the electricity authority has started working on restoring the damage after the water levels had slightly decreased.

Kouris, Evretou, and Polemidia reservoirs overflowed in a 24-hour period with only four to five big ones still yet to reach maximum capacity.

The Lefkara reservoir is expected to be the last to burst, depending on rainfall, Hadjicostis said. Dipotamos reservoir, on the other hand, is expected to burst within days, as well as those in Mavrokolympos and Ayia Marina Chrysochous. The reservoir in Vyzakia is expected to overflow by the end of the month.

Kouris reservoir, the biggest in Cyprus, overflowed on Tuesday, January 6 only for the third time since it was built in 1988. The first time it burst was on March 4, 2004, while the second time was on April 6, 2012.

In January 2019,  the reservoir was just 17.4% full; it's full capacity is 115 million cubic meters (4 billion cubic feet).

The Evretou dam, the third-largest in Cyprus, was established in 1986. The last time it filled was in April 2019. It has a capacity of 24 million cubic meters (84 million cubic feet). Evretou was the sixth to reach full capacity after Pomos, Argakas, Asprokremmos, Arminou, and Kannaviou.

Featured image credit: stavros theocharous

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