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Water in Attica-Athens

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Water in Attica-Athens. Rivers-streams in Attica-Athens Attica does not have big rivers or lakes. There are :the seasonal Kiffisos River which flows through western Athens, the Ilisos River which crossed the eastern half of Athens and the ancient river Iridanos .

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Rivers-streams in Attica-Athens

Attica does not have big rivers or lakes. There are :the seasonalKiffisosRiver which flows through western Athens, the Ilisos River which crossed the eastern half of Athens and the ancient river Iridanos.

In the past there were a lot of streams but today there are only 70

The streams have been covered , built without fixed planning and turned into rubbish dump .

The result is that regions round them have flooded and human lives have been lost

Map with the rivers and streams


Benefits of city from the streams.

1. They create a park in the city , offering a green belt lacking in the urban environment , thus providing space for entertainment

2. They regulate the microclimate of region. Thus the summer becomes cooler and the winter milder.

3.Streams collect rainwater ,channel them to the sea and floods are avoided.

4. They renew the air of the city and help the pollutants to be scattered .

5.Streams clean the atmosphere because the vegetation absorbs dust, pollutants.

6.They offer sound insulation because the vegetation of the area absorbs the annoying noises of the city.

7.They improve the dull urban landscape


Kiffisos : the biggest river of Attica

  • It flows through western Athens
  • It springs from the area between Parnes and Pentelikon Mt.
  • It flows into the Saronic Gulf.
  • It fills with water in winter.
  • It accepts water from all the basin of Attica.
  • In summertime the river does not have water.
  • Kiffisos was worshipped as god by the ancient Greeks.

The god Kephisos is depicted in the left end of the western pediment of Parthenon. The attitude and the moving of the body refer in river, in water that rolls. (British Museum)


Kiffisos and the area around it.

A lot of industries function in this area. In the last 50 years industries continue to emit their waste in the river .

In the previous century the area around the river .


The urban development of Athens in the 20th century, the covering of many streams and their transformation in road axes has resulted in the flooding of Kiffisos.

  • The first works in the river for the flood-preventing protection of Athens began in 1900.
  • Many times the drawings of the state were modified .
  • Works: Widening and deepening of the river , construction of bridges and cover of the river in some areas.
  • Last year works were completed and floods in the regions round the river stopped

Ilisos : famous river in antiquity

  • Sprang from the Hymittos mountain
  • Flew through the city ,in the east part of Athens.
  • Flowed in the Phaleron bay
  • During winter became a torrential river but in summertime it was dry.
  • Also Ilisos was worshipped as god by the ancient Greeks


Athens and Ilisos river in the Hadrian’s period (Roman Emperor 76-138 a.c.). Woodcut

The god Ilisos is depicted in the right end of the western pediment of Parthenon.

Ilisos-lithography 1837


Changes -Ilisos


In the past

During summertime Ilisos was dry and turned into rubbish dump

It was decided to be covered and became street.

Works started in the previous century and finished many years later (1965)


Iridanos : Ancient river of Athens. Sprang from the Lykavitos hill and crossed the historical centre of Athens.In the 5th century b.c the river was covered and changed in underground river.The watercourse of river was found after excavations.

  • Parts of the watercourse exist in one of the metro stations (Constitution square)

Parts of the watercourse exist in one of the metro stations

Marble arch above the watercourse of Iridanos in the Archaeological area of Keramicos

The black line symbolizes the probable course of Iridanos


The circle of water in Athens.

In the past and in the present.

Athens has always been an area with little rainfall, and consequently, water resources have always been scarce. Thus, from the very beginning, its inhabitants had to develop basic water collection and distribution systems for the water supply of the city.  These systems gradually improved with the passing of time and the progress of technology.

Ancient Athens was primarily supplied with water from springs and local wells.One of the most famous natural springs was the Spring of Caliroi (the source of the Ilisos River).

A local well


HadrianAqueduct(140 a.c.)

The first water supplying structure in Athens was built in the Roman period and more specifically in 140 A.C. from the Roman emperor, Hadrian. It was then when the Hadrian Aqueduct and the Hadrian tank were built. The Hadrian Aqueduct began at the foot of Mount Parnes, in the area of Tatoi and transported water by gravity to a stone reservoir on the hill of Lycabettus in the city of Athens. There, the Hadrian tank was built, in which the water was stored. Parts of the water supplier still exist, as well as the one in Kolonaki (area of Athens). In this way the city was provided with water until the Turkish occupation.


During the Turkish Occupation the Hadrian Aqueduct and the Hadrian tank were abandoned and so the people of Athens were again supplied with water from springs and wells. Parts of the Hadrian Aqueduct and the Hadrian tank were cleaned and started working again in 1840 , which is after the Greeks gained their freedom again from the Turks. In addition there were people who transported water from springs. But the population of Athens increased continuously and the problem of insufficiency of water was intense. It is obvious that the above-mentioned ways of water supplement were insufficient to cover the capital’s needs.

In 1925 a contract was signed between the Greek Government, the Bank of Athens and the American Firm ULEN for the financing and construction of the new water supply works.The first major project was the construction of Marathon Dam (1926-1929)  with a total height of 54 m. and a length of 285 m.

people transported water from a local well


Water supply works

1926-1929 : The construction of the Marathon Dam

1959: Water supply works in Iliki Lake.

1969: the dam’s construction of Mornos began.

1981: The operation of the Mornos Dam and Mornos aqueduct began

1992:Evinos river diversion to the Mornos river

Construction of Marathon (1930)


How is Athens supplied with water today?

The water reaches to Athens from the aqueduct of Mornou crossing a distance of 192 kilometres.

water quality analysis
Water quality analysis

How much water we consume

Each time...

We fill a tea-kettle... we use roughly 2 litres water

We take a shower... we use roughly 25 litres water

We wash the clothes in the washing-machine... we use roughly 60 litres water

We wash dishes... we use roughly 5 litres water

Each time we use the toilet cistern we spoil 10 litres water

On average, a person uses 160 litres water each day

A medium house needs roughly 3500 litres daily