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Agricultural Water Management in Greece

  • Nicholas DercasEmail author
Chapter
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Part of the Springer Water book series (SPWA)

Abstract

The dry-warm climate of Greece, with wet winters and dry summers, leads to the need for irrigation in many crops in order to achieve satisfactory production and income. In the country ~3,500,000 hectares are cultivated, about 1,400,000 hectares of which are irrigated in the framework of collective irrigation networks and private boreholes. The irrigated surface of collective works is ~600,000 ha, and the respective surface of private systems is ~800,000 ha. Agriculture consumes 80–85% of the annual water resources used. In private systems, the methods of water application are sprinkling irrigation and micro-irrigation. Private systems are based on boreholes drilled by the farmers. Since there are several illegal boreholes in addition to legal ones, we are led to situations of over-pumping and high pressure in aquifers. Given that Greece is a coastal country (~16.500 km of coastline), the phenomenon of sea intrusion is intense and it is the biggest problem caused by agriculture to the environment (even greater than that of agrochemicals). The institutional framework for land reclamation projects has undergone significant changes over the last 60 years. Initially, there was a ‘pyramid’ management structure where the central administration controlled the planning, design, implementation and management of the projects, since the Agencies set up to manage the projects (GOEB and TOEB, acronyms in Greek) were under the direct supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture through the Land Reclamation Service (YEB, acronym in Greek). Over time, many responsibilities of the Ministry of Agriculture have been transferred to Prefectures, Local Authorities, and Regions, with the result that management Agencies do not have the technical support they had at the beginning. This fact, coupled with the poor financial status of management agencies (irrigators often did not pay their water debts), led to problems of operation, maintenance and general management of the projects. Also, management agencies have little and not properly trained staff. The problem is not only due to the lack of know-how but rather to poor coordination, as many actors are involved without even having the structure and the staff to carry out their responsibilities. In addition, a very important issue consists of the successive changes of the institutional framework. Proposals are being made to address the problems of design, operation, maintenance and the need to re-create an Organization/Company that can support management agencies and help to improve the situation.

Keywords

Greece Agriculture Water Management Irrigation 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Water Resources Sector, Department of Natural Resources Management and Agricultural EngineeringAgricultural University of AthensAthensGreece

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