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Salt intrusion Greece


Freshwater inland resources can be contaminated due to the intrusion of saline water, both underground and on surface, increasing drought problems (e.g. experienced in 2003 in the southern region of the Venice lagoon), both for human use and agriculture production (1).

Along the Adriatic and the Mediterranean, storm surge and saltwater intrusion into aquifers threaten parts of the Croatian, Albanian, and Turkish coasts (2). Problems of saline intrusion would be further exacerbated by reductions in runoff and by increased withdrawals in response to higher demand. Excessive demand already contributes to saline intrusion problems in many coastal areas of Italy, Spain, Greece and North Africa (3).

Large areas of the Mediterranean coastline have already been affected by saline intrusion driven by abstraction of water for agriculture and public water supply, with demand for the latter being markedly increased by tourism. Across Greece, for example, it is estimated that the total surface area of aquifers impacted by seawater intrusion is about 1,500 km2 (4). The Argolid Plain in eastern Peloponnesus in Greece has undergone a rapid expansion of irrigated agriculture since the 1950s. Groundwater abstraction to support the irrigation of oranges, horticultural crops and olives has been excessive and led to the intrusion of sea water into aquifers. This phenomenon was first recorded in the early 1960s, when groundwater, pumped from certain wells, showed an increase in the concentration of chloride.On the Argolid Plain boreholes have had to be abandoned due to excessive levels of salinity found in the groundwater as a result of such salt water intrusion (5).

Salt water intrusion due to sea-level rise is mostly a very slow process that may take several centuries to reach equilibrium (6). Even small rates of groundwater pumping from coastal aquifers are expected to lead to stronger salinization of the groundwater than sea-level rise during the 21st century (7).


The references below are cited in full in a separate map 'References'. Please click here if you are looking for the full references for Greece.

  1. Eisenreich (2005)
  3. Aru (1996), in: Karas (2000)
  4. Daskalaki and Voudouris (2007), in: European Environment Agency (EEA) (2009)
  5. Collins (2009)
  6. Webb and Howard (2011), in: IPCC (2014)
  7. Ferguson and Gleeson (2012); Loaiciga et al. (2012), both in: IPCC (2014)

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