Cyprus is the third largest Mediterranean island, with an area of 9251km2. The northern part of the island, covering an area of about 37% of the total area of the country, is now occupied by Turkish troops, following the invasion of the island by Turkey in 1974. The total population of the country is estimated to be 760,000.
Average yearly precipitation varies geographically, from as low as 300mm on the plains to 1200mm on the highest mountain peaks. The average yearly precipitation for the whole of the island is approximately 500mm.
Records from the past century have shown that precipitation over the past 30 years has reduced by 15-16%, compared to the precipitation of the previous years. This had a dramatic impact on the islands available water resources.
Between 1960, when Cyprus gained its independence, and 2001, a large number of dams were built, raising the total storage capacity from 6Mm3 in 1960 to 305Mm3 in 2001.
The icold register includes 52 large dams and places Cyprus ahead of other European countries in terms of dams per unit area (56 per 10,000km2).
Hydro potential in Cyprus is limited and exploitation is non-feasible. Only one mini hydro plant is in operation, with a capacity of 0.65MW.
Dams have been built on most major rivers in Cyprus. Two dams are currently under construction. The Kannaviou dam, situated on the Ezousa river, on the western side of the island, is a concrete face rockfill dam with a height of 75m and a capacity of 18Mm3. The Tamasos dam, on the Pedieos river, approximately 10km upstream of the city of Nicosia, is an earthfill dam with a height of 34m and a capacity of 2.8Mm3.
Future dam projects include the Akaki-Malounda dam, on the Akaki river, with a capacity of 2Mm3, and the Episkopi dam, on the Ezousa river, with a capacity of 7Mm3. Other smaller dams of local importance are also planned.
With the dam construction in Cyprus nearly over and as existing dams get older, the upgrading and refurbishment of dams will eventually become necessary, so that they operate safely and efficiently.
The findings of the report by the World Commission of Dams regarding the technical, financial and economic performance of dams apply to a great extent in the case of Cyprus. Although no one can deny the contribution of dams to the present prosperity of the island, it is noted that most of the projects have fallen short of physical and economic targets, mainly because of the climatic changes that reduced irrigation water by about 40%, and the preference of people to more profitable professions than irrigated farming.
As a consequence of recent water shortages, the government decided to augment water supplies with desalinated seawater. Two desalination plants with a total capacity 92,000m3/day are now operational, and further plants are under study.