HISTORIC OVERVIEW OF WATER SUPPLY

The water supply of Athens from Antiquity to the Turkish Rule
Athens has always been an area with little rainfall since antiquity. Ancient Athens was primarily supplied with water from springs and local wells. Thus, its inhabitants had to develop basic water collection and distribution systems for the water supply of the city.

 


Between the years 540-530 B.C., Pisistratos constructed an underground aqueduct,that collected additional water from the Hymettus Mountain. Thanks to the project completed by Pisistratos, water reportedly flowed in abundance, meeting the needs of the city residents.

But the most important work for the water supply of Athens, the Hadrian Aqueduct, was built by 134 A.D. up to 140 A.D. by the Roman Emperor Hadrian. The Hadrian Aqueduct began at the foot of Mount Parnitha in the area of Tatoi and transported water by gravity to a stone reservoir on the hill of Lycabettus in the city of Athens.

The Hadrian Aqueduct and Reservoir were the main sources of water for the city of Athens in the years that followed. It operated without change until the time of the Turkish Occupation (which began in 1456). From this point on, the Roman aqueduct and reservoir were left to deteriorate.

In such circumstances, the Athenians during the period of Turkish Rule turned to the construction of wells in their homes.
 
The water supply of Athens from the establishment of the Modern Greek state
The retreating Turkish Army destroyed many water supply works during the war for the liberation of Greece (1821). Hence, at the time of Athens’ liberation in 1830, the city’s water supply problem was critical and demanded immediate attention. The new city authorities commissioned a number of projects to rebuild and renovate existing local water supply works, such as the ancient Hadrian Aqueduct systems.

The Hadrian Aqueduct was cleaned of accumulated debris, repaired, and put into operation again in 1840. In 1870 the remains of the Hadrian Reservoir were uncovered. The new Hadrian Reservoir was reconstructed and operated up until 1940.

However none of the above endeavours provided a real solution to Athens’ water problem. The municipal taps, 55 in number, that existed in Athens contributed little to no on daily water consumption needs and were totally inadequate. The men, who were carrying and selling water in Athens from the neighboring villages, such as Kifissia and Maroussi, were very popular and earned lots of money during that period.

 

In 1870s during the period of Charilaos Trikoupis governance, as well as in 1899 during the period of Georgios Theotokis governance, the capital’s water supply of the Modern Greek State was a major issue, but due to political and economic circumstances neither of the above governances managed to move towards the completion of a project.

In 1911, during the governance of Eleftherios Venizelos, the major issue of the water supply of Athens came back to the fore, but with the outbreak ofFirstWorld War, the project was canceled again.


 
The construction of the new water supply system: The Marathon work 

With the end of the First World War and the end of the National Division, the water supply of Athens was imperative. After the Asia Minor catastrophe and the growth of the Athens population, new needs were created.

The solution comes on December 23, 1924, with the signing of the Contract between the Greek State, the American ULEN Company and the Bank of Athens, where the construction of the first the new water supply works in the capital city began in 1925.

According to the Contract ULEN undertook the construction, maintenance and operation of the water supply works of Athens, Piraeus and Environs. For the exploitation of the works, the“Greek Water Company S.A.” (with the Greek acronym EEY) was founded.

The first major project was the construction of Marathon Dam (1926-1929). The Marathon Dam is considered unique because it is entirely paneled externally with Pentelikon white marble!

It is 54 meters high, 285 meters long. Inside it is made of concrete, which is made of crushed marble, cement and volcanic ash. The construction of the Dam created the artificial lake of Marathon at the point of the intersection of the streams of Haradros and Barnabas, with a capacity of 44,000,000 cubic meters water.

For the transfer of water from Lake of Marathon to Athens, the 13.7 km long Bogiati tunnel was constructed. The Bogiati tunnel transported untreated water through a pipeline to the Water Treatment Plant in Galatsi and from there was channeled through the new network.

In June 1931 the new water system was inaugurated.

More information can be found by clicking here EYDAP ‘S HISTORICAL ARCHIVE


 
The evolution of the water supply works: Yliki, Mornos and Evinos 

In the years that followed (1950’s) Athens’ population continued to grow and the need for additional sources of water once again became pressing. Yliki Lake in the nearby prefecture of Viotia had a significant amount of available water. It was joined in water supply system of Athens in 1956. Yliki is situated on a lower altitude compared to Athens. So, it required the construction of pumping facilities in order to transport the raw water to Athens. The Yliki pumping station is the biggest in Europe.

With Athens continuing need to increase raw water supplies, a new project was proposed which involved the damming of the Mornos River. The dam’s construction began in 1969, but operation of the Mornos dam and new Mornos aqueduct officially began in 1981.

The Mornos dam is one of the highest earth gravity dams in Europe with a height of 126 m. The Mornos aqueduct that transports water from the Mornos reservoir to Athens is the second longest aqueduct in Europe.

Another major project, which has provided Athens with additional water, is the Evinos River diversion to the Mornos Impounding Reservoir. The project consists of the Evinos Dam and a diversion tunnel. Work began on the Evinos project in 1992 and was completed in 2001. The diversion tunnel was completed in just two years, which is considered to be a significant achievement given the project scale. The tunnel has a length of 29,4 km. The Mornos and Yliki Aqueducts are joined by a system of interconnecting aqueducts that provide alternative supply schemes for the maintenance and repair needs of the works. The network of interconnecting aqueducts also offers EYDAP greater overall control and water resource management capability.

Via the Mornos, Yliki and other interconnecting aqueducts, raw water is transported from various sources to the four water treatment plants in the Athens area: Galatsi, Polydendri, Acharnon, and Aspropirgos.