the last few decades, many human activities resulted in the
introduction of pollutants into groundwater, which in turn
resulted in the degradation of its quality rendering it even
more useless for any further use. The consequences of pollution
on people’s health, the economy of the country and in general
the environment have, nowadays, been recognised.
Systematic and co-ordinated efforts are being made not
only to prevent it but to even reverse the adverse situation
existing with several aquifers.
main causes of pollution of groundwater are mainly the disposal
and introduction of the following substances and products into
the earth: a) household
waste (liquid and solid); b) industrial waste;
c) fertilisers; d) insecticides and pesticides; e) farm waste; and f) mine waste (liquid and solid) (Photos E and E).
Seawater could be added to the above substances, which when
intruding into the coastal aquifers causes degradation of the
quality of groundwater on the one hand and damage to the
aquifers themselves on the other.
practice followed in Cyprus, with regards to household liquid
waste, has been that of disposing it into the ground through
absorption wells. Local aquifers are frequently affected this
way, with the degradation of the quality of groundwater due to
the introduction of microbes, nitrate salts, rare elements like
boron and phosphorus and other substances. In the densely
populated area of Nicosia the nitrate salts and boron attain
concentrations of 65-195 mg/l and 3 mg/l respectively. Sewerage
systems have been constructed over large parts of the towns,
which are being expanded continuously. In this way the waste is
treated, purified and reused, while in the meantime the aquifers
are protected from further pollution.
contamination has significantly occurred in the Morphou Aquifer
in the northern part of Cyprus. This pollution is due to nitrite
contamination around Morphou and the other areas of the Morphou
Groundwater Basin. It is thought that this problem has been
caused by the direct introduction into the ground of untreated
household waste as no sewerage networks have been constructed in
the area. This problem is also seen in the Kyrenia Coastal Plain
and Famagusta coastal aquifer.
disposal of industrial waste is an additional cause of pollution.
Through this waste dangerous toxic substances and heavy metals
may be introduced into the aquifers. In order to avoid further
pollution from this source, treatment plants at Vathia Gonia
near the village of Potamia and in the industrial area of
Limassol have already been constructed.
agricultural activities have expanded considerably since the
1950s with the consequent increase in the use of fertilisers,
insecticides and pesticides. Through irrigation and rainfall,
portions of the above substances pass into the ground and reach
the aquifers, gradually affecting the quality of groundwater and
rendering it finally unsuitable for domestic use. In certain
areas, including those of Akrotiri and Kokkinochoria, where
intense farming is carried out, groundwater faces a very serious
problem of pollution.
husbandry also causes problems of pollution to the aquifers
through the disposal of waste into the ground and by the
downward infiltration of microbes and nitrate salts into the
aquifers. In the Orounda-Peristerona area the aquifer has been
polluted from such activities and several water supply boreholes
have been abandoned. The solution to such problems can be found
in the treatment of waste as well as in the reduction of salts
used in animal food.
Mining and quarrying activities in various parts of Cyprus often cause pollution to the aquifers. The most serious problems come from copper mines where rainwater coming into contact with the ore becomes acidic and dissolves and transports high concentration of salts of copper and iron as well as trace elements to the groundwater. This problem occurred in the Xeros Dam soon after it was built at the beginning of 1992. The dam site is very near to the abandoned galleries and mineralisation occurrences on the banks of the river. The low-grade ore heaps and the remains of crushed ore are the sources of contamination of the dam water, especially in winter. Some heavy metal contents in surficial waters are over the threshold values, according to the international water standards. Programmes carried out recently by the GSD aimed at studying and assessing the impacts from such polluting sources and inventing ways of minimising these impacts.