Crete, located in the South Mediterranean Sea, is characterized by long coastal areas, varied terrain relief and geology, and great spatial and inter-annual variations in precipitation. Under average meteorological conditions, the island is water-sufficient (967 mm precipitation; theoretical water potential 3425.89 hm3
; and total water use 610 hm3
). Agriculture is by far the greatest user of water (78% of total water use), followed by domestic use (21%). Despite the high average water availability, water scarcity events commonly occur, particularly in the eastern-south part of the island, driven by local climatic conditions and seasonal or geographical mismatches between water availability and demand. Other critical issues in water management include the over-exploitation of groundwater, accounting for 93% of the water used in agriculture; low water use efficiencies in the farms; limited use of non-conventional water sources (effluent reuse); lack of modern frameworks of control and monitoring; and inadequate cooperation among stakeholders. These deficiencies impact adversely water use efficiency, deteriorate quality of water resources, increase competition for water and water pricing, and impair agriculture and environment. Moreover, the water-limited areas may display low adaptation potential to climate variability and face increased risks for the human-managed and natural ecosystems. The development of appropriate water governance frameworks that promote the development of integrated water management plans and allow concurrently flexibility to account for local differentiations in social-economic favors is urgently needed to achieve efficient water management and to improve the adaptation to the changing climatic conditions. Specific corrective actions may include use of alternative water sources (e.g., treated effluent and brackish water), implementation of efficient water use practices, re-formation of pricing policy, efficient control and monitoring, and investment in research and innovation to support the above actions. It is necessary to strengthen the links across stakeholders (e.g., farmers, enterprises, corporations, institutes, universities, agencies, and public authorities), along with an effective and updated governance framework to address the critical issues in water management, facilitate knowledge transfer, and promote the efficient use of non-conventional water resources.
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