Water Resource In Ios

Water is a critical resource for the sustainability of tourism as our island’s principal economic activity.

While our islands have significant vulnerabilities to climate change, the water scarcity challenge is rarely reflected in sustainable tourism policy and planning documents as being an important tourism issue.

The EU’s Water Framework Directive (WFD) 2000/60/EC aims for a coordinated approach towards water management and improving water quality. It calls for the creation of river basin management units and the development of territorially oriented plans for the river basins. Building on the WFD, the Floods Directive (FD) 2007/60/EC aims for the reduction of adverse effects by floods to human health, cultural heritage, the environment and economic activities. Under the directive, flood risk maps and flood risk management plans have to be prepared by Greece, which among other instruments should utilise spatial planning as a mitigation tool. Thus, both directives have a clear impact on sustainable human settlement planning and management as well as article 98 of the New Urban Agenda.

In economic terms, the higher quality tourism that Greece is pursuing is seen as a strategy for further sustainable growth of “sun and beach” destinations. However, for the continued viability of tourism on our islands, we must seriously consider this strategy’s effect on water resources. The Greek islands, including Ios Folegandros & Sikinos, have a critical water supply situation. At the same time, the Greek state subsidises and permits planning for tourist resorts to be built in the most remote regions of our islands. These luxury resorts, along with the forecasted surge in development of large private villas on our islands, are characterised by a high level of swimming pool ownership, which increase permanent water demand, a direct consequence of this proposed type of development.

Studies show that remote, low density tourist areas consume more water per capita than high density areas, especially for outdoor uses of water. The rising level of swimming pool ownership observed in Ios poses additional demands on water supply. In Majorca, Spain research results showed that the absence of a pool and a garden results in a two to three times lower mean consumption per household, per capita (Rico-Amoros et al., 2009, p. 499). Water demands such as swimming pools create additional water consumption peaks in the season of low rainfall and high evapo-transpiration (Essex et al., 2004).
Our water reservoirs are under continuing pressure and water supply increasingly relies on desalination on our islands. The Municipality of Ios has been proactive on the matter of water supply with projects such as the construction of water supply tanks, installation of three new desalination units, and plans for an irrigation network in the lower and upper valleys of Ios. The Municipality needs the support of a competent spatial plan, which should consider the effect that a dispersal in tourism resort settlements will have on our water-scarce island. Especially given that academic research recommends that spatial development proposes a more dense urban form and water conservation policies.


Additional Reading;
Extreme water consumption in Santorini; https://atlantea.news/anhsyxitika_ayximenes_oi…/


  • Hof et Schmitt, 2011 Urban and tourist land use patterns and water consumption: Evidence from Mallorca, Balearic Islands https://www.sciencedirect.com/…/abs/pii/S0264837711000172
  • A.M. Rico-Amoros et al. Tourist land use patterns and water demand: evidence from the Western Mediterranean Land Use Policy (2009), https://www.sciencedirect.com/…/abs/pii/S026483770800077X
  • Essex et al., 2004, Tourism development in Mallorca: Is water supply a constraint? Journal of Sustainable Tourism https://www.eea.europa.eu/…/tourism-development-in…

See Also