Our topic of research is “Acheloos river diversion, its dams, the ecological and developmental consequences. We worked with the following outline: To give a comprehensive picture to whoever reads our work, we started with the name of Acheloos and the historical status of this river of Greece that has been in the lives of Greeks since antiquity until today. Acheloos is distinct from any other river in Greece in our history, and we made a brief two-page report on the entire hundred-page work. It has influenced our history from antiquity to our liberation in today's independent state, even in the composition of our National Anthem.
In addition, we present its geographical location with all its natural features, so that it shows the areas its crossing and the importance of water in this area of Greece. We showed the rich inflow of the river, with its many tributaries, into the Ionian Sea with all the carrier material due to its mountainous terrain crossing from springs to estuary.
Then again, we outline Acheloos’ physical and economic rearrangements in the 20th and 21st centuries, which mark a new era of the industrialization of Greece and its shift to the necessary energy sources. Already in the early decades there was an indication of Acheloos' diversion to Thessaly for irrigation and agricultural exploitation. Indeed, this thought was made by the military officer and politician Nikolaos Plastiras, whose name bears the first Acheloos dam of Tauropus or Megdova or Lake Plastiras as it is known nowadays by the tourists visiting the dam. In honor of Plastiras, we dedicated a few words to the military-political man who died poor and selfless and who made great efforts for Greece.
In the main part, we described each dam in order of its chronological construction. We have given simple technical data that prove its usefulness, its geographical location, its environmental consequences, its economical value. Each project has its particularities in its construction, its geographical position, its environmental issues with the destruction of monuments, due to poor studies to avoid costs and make more profit. The poor studies gave room to objections against Acheloos’ diversion. Mostly, it was about political debates, publicity and vote fishing.
Let's look at each dam, which is the subject of our research, in chronological order.
The first dam of the Tauropus or Megdova a tributary of Acheloos river, was completed in 1960 and began its operation. The dam has been extremely beneficent by producing hydroelectric power because it was one of the first such infrastructure projects in Greece.
Also, because of its geographical location, the surrounding historical monasteries and the natural beauty of the Agrafa mountain peaks, have stimulated tourist development. It is notable that more than one hundred and fifty thousand tourists a year visit the area around the dam. Over 700 hotels, restaurants and other means of catering to tourism are operating.
The Holy Monasteries, the lake, Peak Observatories, forest hiking trails, cycling roads, boating, lake skiing, botanical gardens, archery, fencing, etc. Have made this a popular destination.
The second dam of Kremasta between Aitoloakarnania and Evritania was completed in 1966 and is the tallest soil dam in Europe. The dam includes the waters of Acheloos, the river Tauropos which reach this dam after their exploitation in the hydroelectric dam of, the rivers Agrafiotis and Trikeriotis. It is a large hydroelectric power generating dam and covers 30,000 acres with a capacity of 4,750,000,000. m3 of water. The about 15 villages and settlements flooded by the waters are a great loss for the inhabitants, land, environment but mostly for all the monuments that sank. There were no protective measures for all the monuments flooded by the waters of the dam while some of them could have been saved as, the Byzantine Church of Our Lady of Episkopi. We have described all the monuments one by one in order to understand their value, in the description of the Kremasta Dam. The lake changed the area after the dam was constructed and is now integrated in the NATURA 2000 program. The description of the ecological development, flora and fauna, is detailed. The tourist development of the area with the infrastructure projects that arose after the construction of the hydroelectric project, is also satisfactory.
Kastraki's third hydroelectric dam has been operating in Acheloos since 1969, just above the Kremasta Dam. It is much smaller than the Kremasta Dam. It is used for hydroelectric power and its waters return to the Acheloos riverbed to flow into the Kremasta Dam and once again become a source of hydroelectric power for the common benefit. The environmental deterioration is smaller than the previous dam, and its covered by its many benefits. The tourism development of the area due to the constructed dam is small.
The next interconnected operating dams, Stratou 1 from 1989 and Stratou 2 from 1999 are the last in the riverbed of Acheloos. They are smaller than the previous ones and have other characteristics. The Stratos 1 Hydroelectric Dam began its construction in 1981 with the use of the waters of Acheloos, as a water storage facility for hydroelectric power, and was put into operation in 1989. At the same time , the Stratos 2 hydroelectric project was created, which was also used for irrigation of the fertile plain of Lower Acheloos, as well for the water supply of the nearby villages for their further development. Tourism was also developed mainly on the established ski slope that was made at the Stratou 2 Dam and was granted to the Pan-Hellenic Ski Learning Federation and operates to this day.
Sixth, is the small hydroelectric dam of Dafnozonara that has been in operation since 2011. We make an exception here in presenting this dam chronologically, because the rest dams of Sykia with similar projects along with the Mesohora hydroelectric dam are not functioning due to many objections. We will describe them immediately after the description of the Daphnozonara project.
Dafnozonara's dam is small, and its elaborate studies have caused objections from various sources. It works as a small hydroelectric project and the water returns to the Acheloos riverbed to continue supplying the remaining interconnected hydroelectric dams of the river.
This is followed by the Sykia Dam that started in 1996 but has not yet operated. The Sykia Dam has parallel projects that are inextricably interconnected with it and have become an obstacle to its operation: The tunnel diverting 15% of the water falling to the Ionian Sea, towards Thessaly. Following the diversion tunnel that has been made but not operational, the Pefkofytos Dam is planned where the tunnel waters and the surrounding streams will be stored and, after generating hydroelectric power, they will be fed into the small hydroelectric dams of Mouzaki, Pyli and Mavromatiou. These dams will be flooded by the tributaries of the Pamisos and Portaikos, the Pinios River, which will enrich the volume of the water.
All these dams will increase the agricultural production from the irrigation of the Thessaly plain along of course with their hydroelectricity production. In addition, many villages will be supplied with water in the wider area. All these works have been discussed since 1925 but many factors have frustrated these grandiose constructions. It was mainly financed by a war-torn Greece. The political will to date of the politicians who have literally sabotaged each other in many ways has also been a hindrance.
In addition to these blocking agents, the environmental-ecological organizations, which have resorted to complaints both in the Council of State (known as the CoS) and in the European Union, have also caused great damage. The Mesochora Dam succeeded in removing these barriers and was completed in 2001 while it was under construction from 1986. Unfortunately, however, until 2014 they did not allow it to operate, when it was released from the cohesion of the Acheloos diversion and the Sykia Dam and interconnected dams. The objections have improved many environmental studies, byzantine monuments have been preserved as the Holy Monastery of Saint George Myrofillou Trikala. However, although many vital infrastructure works were carried out mainly in the area of the Mesochora Dam, the whole area up to Sykia was deprived of vital infrastructure. Most of all, the damage caused by the failure of all these projects is catastrophic because they would revitalize all Greece. The damage to Thessaly exceeds hundreds of billions of euros.
The non-functioning Mesochora dam only is costing 50 million euros a year . The reasons for all this complication, corruption, merciless and irrelevant acts are analyzed in main part of this thesis.
The issue of diversion, completion of projects, operation of the Mesochora Dam is discussed and let us hope that the obstacles will be removed. This will boost the development of the whole region and of our country in general. It is useful to compare with our neighbors in Turkey who have developed about 3,000 dams.