The Solea Valley Irrigation System

Water is diverted from 25 diversion intakes along the river to serve 17 irrigation divisions of total area 945 ha. An irrigation division is a command body of irrigators and the system is based on rights dating to the Ottoman period but probably with roots to the Frankish period when the feudal system was in force. These rights define the size of the channel and the specific hours that the river can be diverted per week, or sometimes per second or third week and many rights are exercised at night.

In order to ascertain the proper use of the rights, particularly to ensure that owners of the fields right next to the channel do not steal water, certain people are employed. In the end this costs the irrigators higher than buying water from the public supply system (currently -2011- at 0,17 euro per cubic meter).

The channels were originally made of stone or earth, but were transformed into concrete channels in the 1960s. Still there are great losses: the efficiency of water use is of the order of 25% as opposed to 80% in a modern piped system.