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Water 2017, 9(11), 868; https://doi.org/10.3390/w9110868

Sustainable Water Management in the Tourism Economy: Linking the Mediterranean’s Traditional Rainwater Cisterns to Modern Needs

1
Department of City and Regional Planning, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
2
Cornell Institute for Public Affairs, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
3
College of Arts and Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
4
Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853
5
Department of Operations Research, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
6
Water and Sewage Authority of Thira, Thira, Santorini 84700, Greece
7
Cornell Institute for European Studies, Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 10 August 2017 / Revised: 3 November 2017 / Accepted: 4 November 2017 / Published: 8 November 2017
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Abstract

Communities on islands with mass-tourism, like Santorini, rely on vast quantities of water to develop the local economy. Today’s inhabitants of Santorini have largely abandoned the traditional cisterns that were used to sustain the island’s pre-modern civilizations in favor of water obtained from desalinization, ship deliveries, and well withdrawals. In June 2016, Cornell University researchers worked with the Water and Sewage Authority of Thera (DEYATH) to assess the viability of improving sustainability and water efficiency by restoring traditional rainwater harvesting and storage cisterns. The team surveyed five cisterns, held meetings with water authority staff and mayoral leadership, conducted interviews with local tourism stakeholders, and coordinated with Global Water Partnership-Mediterranean. One conclusion was that cisterns could be rehabilitated as decentralized storage reservoirs and integrated into the island’s centralized water systems, or alternatively, serve as educational and cultural spaces used to communicate the importance of water to residents and tourists. The research findings highlight how multi-stakeholder partnerships could assist local authorities with developing new water management initiatives to foster more sustainable models of tourism development. View Full-Text
Keywords: water security; sustainable tourism; human ecology; heritage values; rainwater harvesting; Greece; ancient water supply systems; ecotourism; conservation; climate adaptation water security; sustainable tourism; human ecology; heritage values; rainwater harvesting; Greece; ancient water supply systems; ecotourism; conservation; climate adaptation
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Enriquez, J.; Tipping, D.C.; Lee, J.-J.; Vijay, A.; Kenny, L.; Chen, S.; Mainas, N.; Holst-Warhaft, G.; Steenhuis, T.S. Sustainable Water Management in the Tourism Economy: Linking the Mediterranean’s Traditional Rainwater Cisterns to Modern Needs. Water 2017, 9, 868.

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