Pumping stations, pipes, storage tanks, valves – these are things that don’t normally concern us; we don’t wonder about them even though water is essential for our survival. However, every place has its own water-related history stretching back through the ages; a history interwoven with the special features of the aquatic environment of every location.
- Since the time of Cassander and the establishment of Thessaloniki in 315 BC, Mount Chortiatis and its springs were the main source of water for the city (the Chortiatis aqueduct was built in 303 BC; its water bridge is still visible today from the road outside the like-named village). In the 17th century, the springs of Retziki and Lembet (now the beginning of the Dendropotamos stream) were added to the Chortiatis springs. In the late 19th century, the Ottoman rulers and the municipality commissioned the Belgian-funded Compagnie Ottomane des Eaux de Salonique to supply the city with water, and construction commenced on water works to the east and west, pumping stations, storage tanks and a number of pipelines.
- After the city was liberated in 1912, the contract with the Belgian company continued and included projects to improve and extend the existing network, while the municipality was mainly responsible for the city’s water supply. For several decades yet, public water fountains – scattered around the city and often places to meet and socialise – comprised the main water distribution “network”. The emblematic fountain located at Sintrivani Square across from EYATH’s current main offices on Egnatia Avenue was once a public fountain.
- The reconstruction that followed the fire of 1917 and the change in the urban plan destroyed or laid waste to a large section of the network, while the population exchange after the Asia Minor Catastrophe sharply increased the need for water. In the period between the wars, efforts were made to expand the network. The Belgian company was succeeded by the multinational Energie Industrielle, which named its company in Thessaloniki the Société de Distribution des Eaux de Thessalonique (Thessaloniki Water Distribution Company).
- In 1939, the Thessaloniki Water Supply Organisation (OYTH) took over from the municipality and the French company, and became the only water supplier in the city. Its main offices were located at 80 Tsimiski Str. During the war and post-war years, OYTH faced many challenges along the way, as it endeavoured to staff the company and organise the network. From 1950 onward, as demand for water grew with the increasing population, major water works were undertaken, including the construction of the pumping station at Kalochori (it went into operation in 1978 to replace the old Central Pumping Station at Sfageia) and the Aravissos aqueduct, the spring water of which resolved the intensifying problem of water supply for many years.
- In 1998, the Thessaloniki Water Supply Organisation merged with the Thessaloniki Sewerage Organisation to form a new company for water and sewage – EYATH S.A. The company was listed on the Athens Exchange in 2001. It is now a modern enterprise which manages a common good – water – and supplies more than 1 million citizens, businesses and industries in the Greater Thessaloniki Area. At the same time, it manages the city’s sewage system, operating biological treatment systems for urban and industrial wastewater.
- The uninterrupted supply of high-quality water to safeguard public health, the reduction of the company’s environmental footprint through its daily operation and its protection against climate change are the main axes upon which EYATH S.A. builds its strategy. It specialises in the design, construction, installation, operation, running, management, maintenance, extension and renewal of water supply and sewerage systems. Its activities include projects such as desalination, pumping, treatment, storage, transport, distribution and management of waters of every kind, as well as collecting, transporting, treating, storing and managing wastewater (except toxic waste).
EYATH S.A. has been in business for more than 20 years. Nevertheless, its long relationship with the history of Thessaloniki is evidenced by the wealth of documents, testimonies, artefacts and maps now located in the Water Supply Museum: all part of the legacy and valuable pieces of the long history of water supply of the city. A story about water and its infrastructure that blends together the historical and sociological past of the city. Thessaloniki’s water is EYATH!