Lack of adequate infrastructure is leaving some of Croatia's prime tourist locations without enough water, forcing rationing and driving away visitors.
By Kristina Cuk for Southeast European Times in Zagreb – 01/08/06
The large influx of tourists is adding to the water shortage in Croatia. [Getty Images]
At the peak of the tourist season, coastal regions of Croatia have been plagued with water shortages. Rainfall in Dalmatia has been scarce, and the existing water supply systems are not adequate for large settlements, nor capable of handling the growing influx of people.
As a result, water rationing has been implemented in some areas. The worst situation was on Pag, an island in central Dalmatia. There, local administrations were at odds with each other over supplying water to island districts.
In one district, water use was curtailed from 11 am to 5 pm, while in another, people continued to water gardens and hose down the streets.
Pag usually attracts tens of thousands of tourists. But this summer, some have left. Visitors do not want to pay for an apartment or hotel where they cannot take a shower. To remedy the situation, the military has started importing water from other Croatian cities. Officials are now inviting tourists to come back.
As a result, the crisis has been averted -- for now. Over the long term, the problem will have to be addressed by overhauling the water system. Otherwise, Croatia can expect shortages and emergency measures each year, not a welcome prospect for a country seeking to develop its tourism industry.
Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader has expressed solidarity with islanders and their guests. He vowed that Pag would receive government support soon and that a new water supply system will be built.
While it has been common for this part of Croatia to suffer summer water shortages, this has been the most acute yet. Experts say more planning ahead of the tourist season is needed, rather than simply waiting for the next set of angry tourists and frustrated hotel owners.