THE ORIGINAL 8

Islands in the Water Saving Challenge Project were carefully selected to fit a number of criteria crucial for securing project’s relevance:

Small

The project focused on small islands and small communities rather than island-states and big European islands such us Sicily, Corsica, Crete, Mallorca etc. As we wanted replicable solutions easily integrated in everyday lives of individual customers as well as water management systems, focus on small islands made perfect sense. Therefore we targeted islands smaller than 100 km2 with a population bellow 5000 permanent inhabitants.

Scarcity of water

Abundance of water is great, however we were interested in communities suffering from scarcity of freshwater, strongly motivated to make their water management more efficient. In addition, we were particularly interested in island communities with significant numbers of seasonal residents, daily visitors and tourists, communities whose water system was under highest human pressure during lowest rainfall season.  

Diversity

To come up with models that could be implemented as widely as possible WASAC needed islands that would well represent the incredible diversity of European islands in terms of the climate, geographical position, hydrology, remoteness, administrative system etc.  Consequently, we chose 8 islands from 4 different Member States with different approaches to island (self)management, from 5 different seas, different types of bedrock, and various distances from their mainland.

Position of the eight islands on a map of Europe

Water saving in progress

WASAC is a learning project at its core, searching for communities that already implemented some (albeit not comprehensive) water saving measures. WASAC has always been envisioned as a process in which islands learn from one another, and then passing its know-how to mainland communities. All islands initially selected for the Project had already implemented some innovative solution they could offer.

Understanding with dedication

Understanding that the issue of water scarcity can be best solved only through a holistic approach, influencing the entire water management system that begins with production, and ends with a consumer, was WaSaC’s key criteria. As well as was the dedication to act on it.  

The original eight small islands with great determination and great ideas included in the WASAC project were: Croatian islands of Lastovo and Vis, French islands Houat and Sein, Greek islands Ithaka and Tilos, and Irish islands Cape Clear and Inisheer.


THE 8 ISLANDS IN SHORT

 

Cape Clear

Cape Clear Port

Cape Clear Island (Oileán Chléire in Gaelic) lies off the south-west corner of the Irish mainland. It is the most southern point of Ireland apart from the uninhabited Fastnet rock, which lies 4 miles to the south-west. Cape Clear and Sherkin Islands together form the south-eastern part of Roaringwater Bay.

Almost oval in shape, the island has an area of 6,7 km2 (2,59 sq mi) making it the third smallest island in our group of eight. It is about five km (3,1 miles) long and approximately two and a half km (0,31 miles) wide, with the Cnoicin and Seabthaic rising 160 m over sea level at low tide. Cape Clear is composed almost entirely of old red sandstone, resulting in rainfall draining into the sea. The folding which took place in the past has given the island a considerable south-easterly dip. The effects of folding and erosion have produced a spectacular coastline with jutting rocks, many caves, blowholes and stacks.

Human pressure on Cape Clear

The island’s population is 125 in winter, and between 400 and 450 in summer. Annual visitors 25,000 plus. The human pressure on the island is almost 100,000 man-days. If divided by 365 days, it is equivalent to a resident population of 273 inhabitants. Given the average water consumption in Ireland (140 litres according to Eurostat ), the island would need 14 million litres (14,000 m3) of freshwater per year. Using a population figure of 124 and a usage of 150 l/hd/day indicates existing resident (or winter time) domestic demand of 18.6 m3/day. The total peak summer domestic demand for the island, for both residents and non-residents, is estimated at 47.5m3/day.

 

Houat at the entrance to the Baie de Quiberon

Houat (Enez Houad in Breton) is a French island in the Atlantic Ocean off the south coast of Brittany in the department of Morbihan. It is located, along with two other major islands at the entrance to the Baie de Quiberon.

The surface of Houat is 2,9 km2 (1,1 sq mi) making it the second smallest among the original eight WASAC islands.  The island is 5 km (3.1 mi) long and 1.5 km (0.9 mi) at the widest section. It is mostly granite cliffs except for a long beach lined with dunes on the eastern coast.

Houat is a massive shale of gneiss and granite in slight slope. There are sand dunes in the north-east and the south east, the rest of the coast is steep from 14 to 29 meters, cut by ravines with sandy beaches. As a consequence, Houat is an island without a single freshwater spring. With highest tips of the island between 25 and 28 meters, Houat is the flattest among the original WASAC islands. The average rainfall for the years 1993-2002 on Houat is 909,8 mm per year and the total of water falling on the island 750,000 m3 per year.

Human pressure on Houat

Houat has 242 all-year inhabitants (2013). In summer (about 10 weeks), the population rises to 1.360. Day visitors are around 500 in July and August, and 250 in June and September. The human pressure on the island is 270,730 man-days. If divided by 365 days, it is the equivalent to a resident population of 554 inhabitants. The human pressure is very uneven, peaking in summer when water is scarce. A hot day in July, almost 1,000 visitors, plus 600 summer residents, plus 242 all-year residents can be on the island = 1,842 p/2,9 km2 = 635 p/km2.

 

Inisheer

Inisheer (Irish : Inis Oírr, the island's official name, Inis Oirthir, meaning "east island", and traditionally Inis Thiar, meaning "rear island") is the smallest and most eastern of the three Aran Islands in Galway Bay, on the western coast of Ireland.

The island is about 8 km2 square kilometres (3.08 square miles) in size, and is the largest of the four WASAC islands smaller than 10km2.  Terrain of the island is composed of limestone pavements with crisscrossing cracks known as "grikes", leaving isolated rocks called "clints". Further geological processes have widened and deepened the grykes of the limestone pavement. Pre-existing lines of weakness in the rock (vertical joints) contribute to the formation of extensive fissures separated by clints (flat pavement like slabs). The rock karstification facilitates the formation of sub-terrainean drainage. Inisheer has an average yearly rainfall of 1,153 mm.

Human pressure on Inisheer

The 260-270 permanent residents live in 105 houses in five villages: Baile Thiar, Baile an Lurgain, Baile an tSéipéil, Baile an Chaisleáin and Baile an Fhormna. Besides the resident population, Inisheer has some 400 summer residents in 200 houses, 130 students during 3 summer weeks, 100,000 day-trippers and 50,000 weekenders. The tourism season is long, from March to November. The human pressure on the island is thus 366,600 man-days. If divided by 365 days, it is equivalent to a resident population of 1,004 inhabitants. Given the average water consumption in Ireland (135 litres according to Eurostat), the island needs 41 m3 of water a day making 15 million litres (14,892 m3) of freshwater per year. The human pressure is very uneven, peaking in summer when water is most scarce. The week in June when this field study was carried out, 3,000 visitors came every day to Inisheer, using approximately 4 m3 of water/day.

 

The western Ithaka Port

Ithaka or Ithaca (/ˈɪθəkə/; Greek: Ιθάκη, Ithakē [iˈθaci]) is a Greek island located in the Ionian Sea, east of the northwest coast of Kefalonia, from which it is separated by the Strait of Ithaca.

The island is about 93 km2 square kilometres (37 sq mi), stretching in a north-south direction, 23 km (14,3 mi) in length of and with a maximum width of 6 km (3,73 mi). Ithaka is the largest of the original eight WASAC islands. It consists of two parts of about equal size connected by a narrow isthmus of Aetos (Eagle) just 600 metres wide. The two parts enclose the bay of Molos. The tallest mountain is Nirito in the northern part (806 m), followed by Merovigli (669 m) in the south. Ithaka largely consists of a series of folded Jurassic to Eocene limestones. The Western side is arid and steep, the Eastern side green and accessible. As on Kefalonia, the dominance of limestone has led to a lack of surface water. The Ionian islands have an average yearly rainfall of 950 mm (three times the average rainfall of the Aegean).

Human pressure on Ithaka

The 3,100 permanent resident live in seven villages on Ithaka. Vathy is the capital and largest settlement of the island (pop. 1,920 in 2011) followed by Stavros (366), Perachori (343), Platreithias (201), and Kioni (182). In addition to permanent residents, in summer (about 10 weeks) the population tripkes to more than 9,000. There are 10,000 tourists on the island during 45 peak days in July and August. The human pressure on the island is extreme - well over 2 million man-days. If divided by 365 days, it is equivalent to a resident population of 6,182 inhabitants. Given the average water consumption in Greece (115 litres according to Eurostat), the island would need 259 million litres (260,000 m3) of freshwater per year. The human pressure is very uneven, peaking in summer when water is most scarce. A hot day in July, 10,000 visitors plus 6,000 summer residents plus 3,100 all-year residents are on the island = 19,100 p/96 km2 = 199 p/km2.

 

Lastovo in southern Adriatic

Lastovo is a Croatian island located far out in the Adriatic Sea, about 30 nautical miles (55,56 km) off the Dalmatian coast with rear boat/ferry connections to mainland, making it the most remote WASAC island. Lastovo is a Nature Park comprising an archipelago of 46 smaller islands. The main island’s dry surface covers 47 km2 (18,15 sq mi) but – interestingly enough – its wet surface is reported to cover 143 km2 (55,2 sq mi).  

Lastovo and its archipelago are made up of sedimentary rocks consisting of mainly dolomite, dolomitic limestone and pure limestone. Hum (417m) is Lastovo’s highest of 46 hilltops. There is a significant interplay of wooded hills and karst valleys with an estimated total of 46 fields (the largest of them being Vinopolje, Lokavje and Prgovo), formed in the impermeable dolomite beds or semipermeable dolomitic limestone beds. The most frequent form of precipitation is rain with 622 mm precipitation during the year, whereof 50 mm in summer. There is some occasional hail, while snow is extremely rare. An important factor for vegetation is humidity, which makes up for the lack of rain in dry periods. The average annual air humidity is 68%.

Human pressue on Lastovo

The 792 permanent residents live in six villages: Lastovo is the main and largest settlement of the island (pop.  in 2011) followed by Ubli (366), Zaklopatica (343), Lucica (201), Pasadur (343) and Skrivena Luka (182). In 2015 Lastovo had 6,545 tourist arrivals and 47,440 overnights during the summer seasson (about 10 weeks). Population rises approximately 3 times during three summer season months. The human pressure on the island is thus over ½ million man-days. If divided by 365 days, it is equivalent to a resident population of 1,498 inhabitants. Given the average water consumption in Croatia (115 litres according to Eurostat), the island needs 62 million litres (62,113 m3) of freshwater per year. The human pressure is very uneven, peaking in summer when water is most scarce. A hot day in July, 10,000 visitors plus 6,000 summer residents plus 3,100 all-year residents are on the island = 19,100 p/96 km2 = 199 p/km2.

 

Island of Sein and its waters

Sein is a French island in the Atlantic Ocean, off Finistère, eight kilometres from the Pointe du Raz (raz meaning "water current"), from which it is separated by the Raz de Sein. The Breton name of Sein is Enez Sun.Lying on the sea routes going south from the English Channel, Sein is well known for the dangers of its waters, the Chaussée de Sein, a vast zone of reefs stretching more than 30 miles from east to west, requiring numerous lighthouses, beacons, and buoys. The area of Sein is 60 hectares (0,6 km2 or 0,23 sq mi) making it the smallest among the original WASAC islands.

Sein is a detachment from Le Raz and became an island some 9,000 years ago. It is a string
of islets connected by dykes and pebbles rising only 1,5 metres above sea level

HUman pressure on Sein

Sein has 216 all-year inhabitants (2013 census) called “Sénans”. This is 338 inhabitants/km2. In summer (about 10 weeks), the population rises to 1.360. Day visitors are around 500 in July and august, 250 in June and September. The human pressure on the island is 262,510 man-days. If divided by 365 days, it is equivalent to a resident population of 716 inhabitants.The human pressure is very uneven, peaking in summer when water is scarce. A hot day in July, about 500 visitors plus 1,360 summer residents plus 216 all-year residents can be on the island = 2,076 p/0,58 km2 = 2,232 p/km2.

 

 

Position of Tilos within Greek Aegean archipelago

Tilos is a solitary limestone rock rising 600 meters above sea level in the Aegean Sea. It is one of the islands of the Dodecanese, located 22 nautical miles (2-3 hours) NW of Rhodes and 222 nautical miles (15 hours) from Piraeus. The area of the island is 61.5 km2 (23,74 sq mi) making it the third largest in our WASAC group, and the one most distant from national mainland (Turkish soil being much closer).

 

Tilos is a mountainous island mainly consisting of calcareous masses. The highest elevation (654 m or 2145 ft) is found at Profitis Ilias mountain at the island’s northwestern end. The main part of the groundwater formation forms during winter period and is approx. 413 mm. Since the bedrock is made up of limestone, a rapid flow of water to the sea is usually carried out.

Human pressure on Tilos

There are 600 permanent residents on Tilos, whereas there are approximately 500 seasonal residents – people who, although they have a residence, stay on the island only a few months a year. In addition, the island has a capacity of approximately 1,300 beds (hotels, rooms, etc.), while there are two free camping sites on the beaches of Eristos and Plaka, peaking during the summer season with 500 campers. The total number of person-days per year on Tilos is 492,300 - almost half a million. Dividing 492,300 by 365, we get an equivalent of a population counting 1,349 permanent residents. This is what we call the “technical population”, a number which describes the human pressure on Tilos’ healthcare, mobile-phone, rescue, fire prevention, waste, sewage, energy, transport and water supply systems more accurately than the census figure.

Water consumption in Tilos is 54,000 m3 as measured by water meters installed at the final consumers of the water supply network and recorded every three months of the year. There are some small supplies that are not recorded, because they are not priced, as in churches, schools and municipal buildings. There are also 5-6 private boreholes for irrigation purposes with small (~5 m3/day) supplies that are not recorded.

 

Satellite image: position of Vis in the Adriatic Sea

Vis is a Croatian island in the central part of the Adriatic Sea, 55 kilometres (34,17 miles) from the mainland, covering a surface area of 90 km2. Three hill chains and two valleys containing several smaller karst fields are well distinguished. The highest point of the island is Hum at 587 m (1925 ft) above sea level. Rock is composed of cretaceous limestone and dolomite; Triassic and clastic rocks.

The average yearly rainfall is 800 mm. There are no surface water flows except after heavy rainfall (typical for Adriatic islands). The groundwater formation is estimated at approximately 400 mm and takes place almost completely during the winter. The groundwater flows quickly into the limestone that dominates the island's bedrock and the groundwater surface is very close to the sea level, which is not usually normal in, for example, granite bedrock. This indicates a major problem in obtaining freshwater from the island's groundwater.

Human pressure on Vis

A total of 3,460 persons live in the island’s two municipalities making Vis the most populated WASAC island, and the only one divided administratively between two municipalities (City of Vis and City of Komiža). Today, Vis has a lucrative nautical tourism sustained by two large anchorages in Komiža and Vis. There are 4 hotels, several thousand beds in private accommodation and one undeclared camp. In addition to 3,460 permanent residents (2011), Vis counts 36,750 tourist arrivals and 213,894 overnight stays (2015), most of them from June to October. The human pressure on the island is thus about 1,5 million man-days. If divided by 365 days, it is equivalent to a resident population of 4,046 inhabitants. The pressure from humans is very uneven, peaking in the four summer months when water is most scarce, the population rises approximately 2.8 times. A hot day in August, 6,000 visitors plus 3,500 residents are on the island = 9,500 p/90 km2 = 108 p/km2.