Sewage pollution fears near dam

Nicole Neroulias

YERMASOYEIA officials have measured dangerously high levels of bacteria in the river between Arakapas and the Yermasoyeia Dam.

Yermasoyeia Mayor Panicos Louroutziatis said yesterday government officials had known for years that sewage pipes from the village of Arakapas were draining into the water supply, but had failed to take corrective measures.

The water supply provides irrigation and drinking water for the Limassol and Larnaca municipalities, and serves as a popular fishing destination for Cypriots and tourists.

According to the recent analysis of water samples taken between Arakapas and the dam, bacteria levels per millilitre were more than 30 times greater than the levels recommended by the EU and World Health Organisation, officials said.

“At certain points near the dam, the number of bacteria are too numerous to count,” said Yermasoyeia health inspector Timos Misseris.

Further examination of the water samples revealed high levels of coliforms, which indicate the presence of faecal contamination, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an organism that can cause skin and respiratory infections in humans and animals, Misseris said.

Misseris said that the municipality has reported the measurements to the appropriate government agencies and Arakapas officials, and are anxiously awaiting their replies.

“This situation is known by all the governmental services and they do nothing about it,” he said. “We should worry about this.”

Officials from the Water Development Department and the Arakapas Municipality were unavailable for comment.

Misseris said the pollution didn’t mean that the drinking water from the region was unsafe, due to the purification process it undergoes before human consumption. However, he acknowledged that the process may not be taking the extraordinarily high levels of contamination into account, and urged the government to take steps to deal with the problem.

“They should find a solution to stop immediately the sewage from being dumped in the river,” he said. “This is not something that is happening accidentally. It’s coming through installed pipes.”