Saturday, September 6, 2014

Sports with respect to the lake - Open letter to International Water Ski and Wakeboard Federation

28 October, 6th, P.C. 454 44, Ioannina -   tel. (0030) 6972 20 80 32
Ioannina,     September 5th 2014
Open letter
To       1.    International Water Ski and Wakeboard Federation & Mr. President, Kuno Ritschard
           2.    The Administrations and the athletes of the unions and water ski federations of countries involved in the nowadays events in our city
           3.    To the citizens throughout the world

Dear Sirs,
The philosophy of athletics has always been closely associated with the environment and its protection, because sport and environment as specific concepts, institutions and particularly, values, do constitute mainly the supporting pillars of the global civil society, but also of the perspective of a sustainable development for the present and future generations.
Sport, culture and the environment are the three functional poles of the Olympic Games spirit. With this assumption, the protection of the natural, structural and cultural environment is now a basic requirement and essential parameter, which must be well- ensured during the design and the development of sporting activities.
By formulating some environmentally friendly habits, prospects and attitudes, the ideas & values ​​of sport and olympism are firmly founded.
With the under prot. nr. Φ31 / 4425/212/75 Decision taken by the Ministry of Culture and Science the lake of Ioannina, Pamvotida, and the sourrounded to this area, at a depth of 100 meters from the shore towards the town plan and 300 meters to the other sides, was featured as a historical place of an exceptional natural beauty because it is inextricably linked to historical moments and traditions of the Modern Greek World.
The wetland of Amfithea, to a portion of which currently the water ski and wakeboard racings are held, is a sensitive ecosystem of the lake due to the high significance of the springs and its important habitats & rare species of flora and fauna, as integrated to the system of NATURA 2000 as a Special Protection Area (ΖΕΠ) and Special Area of ​​Conservation (ΕΖΔ) GR2130005.
To this particular part of the wetland and adjacent to the irrigation embankment, the Municipality of Ioannina proceeded during the last year with eradicating the reeds and dredging the seabed to a depth of 2 meters in an area described geometrically with a rectangle, 800 x 80 meters, creating, as stated, a temporary alternative water ski track to be used in case weather conditions could cause water rippling and impede the conduct of the games in the main race track.
The constructional works of the track were made ​​without legal permits, without Environmental Impact Assessment (ΜΠΕ), unsupervised and without being ware, no one knows, what was the cost and with what sources of money this was accomplished. The persons in charge had made an extraction of huge quantities of aggregates from the mountain Mitsikeli, destroying the beauty of its landscape. Inert materials used to create temporary dikes and dredging products remained in the wetland, in order to create roads, and were dispersed to the remaining reeds by destroying it’s purpose.
Multiple provisions of the Greek law and EU directives were violated for which our Association filed a lawsuit against persons in charge, and this is still on regard by the Greek Justice.
The Environmental Inspectors of the Ministry of Environment in their reports had mentioned the abuses and breaches of environmental law and the resulting degradation of the natural environment, as described after the autopsies conducted (prot .nr  305 / 26.03.2014 Certificate of Violation) [1].
Since year 1966, when in the city the water ski association was founded, for many years in the Lake Pamvotida European Water ski races where conducted with great ease. In the year 1986 to Limnopoula area an excellent track with modern facilities was constructed in and there should have been held all such events.
However, in order to help some people who for their own reasons want the obsolete irrigation embankments to stay where they are in the regions of Anatoli-Katsika and Amfithea, and react strongly to the embankments removal, the construction of the water ski track was arranged in contact with the embankment, supporting the prevalence of the embankments.  This followed an action in favor of the prevalence of the embankment by Mr. Prefect Kachrimanis, who is a nominated member (vice president) of the organizing committee of the games. With his prot. nr. 7008/6885/ 06.08.2012 letter to the scholars who compiled the Study in order to design a cycle path around Pamvotida, they were instructed as bicycles passage be on the embankment of Amfithea. We should stress out to this point that the pre-study drawn by the scholars defined the bicycle crossing through the boundaries of the settlement Amfithea and the lake.
These embankments had cut off the communication of the lake with the wetlands (hatching and breeding areas) and the springs of Mitsikeli mountain, which were enriching Pamvotida lake with millions of cubic meters clean water, and turned it into a closed tank with contaminated and dirty water.
It is due to all these imposed, therefore, from now on to remove all obsolete embankments so as the lake can in an unhindered way be connected with the interactive springs and all these wetlands. By doing this, Pamvotida will also restore its self-cleaning ability throughout the wet meadows of the wider region.
Removal of the embankments so that Pamvotida can restart its operation as a lake ecosystem, as did it once, constitutes an old proposal of scientific experts in Lake’s Management Plan and a request from local society of Ioannina dwellers. Any contrary view is hostile to Pamvotida because it creates conditions for possible conversions of wetlands to building landscapes, which condemn the lake forever to be a lake-basin, lifeless and without future.
It is clear from the above mentioned that water skiing track existence in the wetlands of Amfithea, except natural environment degradation, contributes to the embankments prevalence, with all previously mentioned consequences for the lake.
It also proves that such fundamental principles of sport were violated and the destruction of Amfithea’s wetland for water ski track, which deceptively were promoted as "water resources developmental project for protection-maintenance of the ecosystem", constitute a unique event in the world offending the conduct of water ski games events in such an area.
Our Association does not contravene the water ski sport, on the contrary we will be very pleased to establish again such international races in our beautiful lake, to the open water track of Limnopoula and not in the wetlands.

For the Administrative Board

Konstantinos Sakkas

[1]        Prot. Nr. 305 and 306 /26.03.2014, Certificate of Violation, Environmental Inspectors

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Activities and achievements since the establishment of the Association in 1976

Among other activities:

1. From the formation of Ioannina Environment Protection Association, numerous denunciations have been made concerning illegal fillings and arbitrary occupations of by the lake areas, which efficiently contributed to their restraint.

2. After our request in 1977, procedures began concerning the determination of lake boundaries. Over the past years Boundaries Committees have been repeatedly established and have set the boundaries of coastal area and beach, without however completiing of the procedure due to the lack of appropriate ratification by the Minister in charge.

At last the Boundary Committee which was established under the law 2971/2001 has begun in 2007 procedures in setting lake boundaries. Unfortunately in the Anatoli-Katsika area the Committee had set the lake boundary at the embankment which cut the communication between the lake and the huge (3,5 square kilometer) wetland of the area.

This decision is in contrast with the Environmental Study of Lake Pamvotis that the Ministry of Public Works and Environment had approved in 2001, and the Management Plan of Lake Pamvotis that was composed from the Hellenic Republic - Region of Epirus in 2004.

Our Association lodged in December 2007 an application for the redefinition of the boundary, which was rejected from the General Secretary of the Region of Epirus. Ioannina Environment Protection Association lodged an application for annulment against the decision of the Boundary Committee and the General Secretary of the Region of Epirus, at the Council of State (Symvoulion tis Epikrateias).

3. In February of 1973, Ioannina Environment Protection Association submitted a request at Ioannina District, for the establishment of Autonomous Organization of Ioannina Lake, with state law entity and executive authorities, for the protection and development of the Lake. The proposition was adopted by the District, the Municipality, numerous studies and drafts for the creation of the Organization had been composed.

Finally in 2002 the Pamvotis Lake Managmend Body (Foreas Diaxirisis Limnis Pamvotidas) has been established, an organization without any authority since it only has advisory role. From 2005 Ioannina Environment Protection Association participates on the Board of Pamvotis Lake Managmend Body.

4. Our Association takes actions to ensure the preservation of free public areas and city parks. In 1977 we achieved concerning the “Aigli” park (in front of the Courthouse) to remain a city park and not undergo end building construction in the area.

5. In the same concept we are fighting for the protection of St. Marina Street Market. According to a decision of the Municipality of Ioannina a new Town Hall is to be constructed in the area. Alternatively we have proposed the Municipality to be housed in today District and the District to be housed in a new building at Velissario Campus. We have appeal for the above to the regional court witch has sent the case to the Council of State (Symvoulion tis Epikrateias).

Even before the outcome of the case on the Council of State, our proposition have been adopted in the recent draft of the General Master Plan of Ioannina, which is being composed from the Ministry of Public Works and Environment.

6. In 1990 we managed to raise funds and 680 conifers trees 2,50 m in height were purchased from Germany and planted at the city of Ioannina and the University area.

7. In Septeber 2003 we lodged an application for annulment at the Council of State (Symvoulion tis Epikrateias), against the 22943 / 2003 Joint Ministerial Decision, which have been considered destructive, as it took no measure to protect the Lake, set its boundaries arbitrary, and allowed the construction of multistory buildings on the coast.

The Council of State accepted our request and with the 3595 / 2007 judgment revoked the above Joint Ministerial Decision.

The Ministry of Public Works and Environment is conducting a study consernig the composition of a Presidential Decree for the protection of the Lake.

8. In 2004 after many months of laborious actions, we revealed a serious error of Ioannina District. The lake area (wetlands) between the embankment and the former Community of Amfithea, was supposed to belong to the Community of Amfithea, when it actually is public property. With our action we managed to save a lake wetland area of 1,27 square kilometers.

9. Ioannina Environment Protection Association is deeply concerned for the future of Lake Pamvotis. Difficult and costly works must take place, such as the removal of the infected mud and sediment, which have made the lake shallower, the removal of the illegal arbitrary embankments, the restoration of the wetlands both on lakes Pamvotis and Lapsista, the construction of sewerage system around the Lake etc. We feel it is an opportunity for approval of such funding by the European Union, however the General Secretary of the Region of Epirus has denied such a proposition.

10. In February of 2009 we accused the District of Ioannina for the illegal construction of paved road for bicycles and pedestrians on top of the embankment of Anatoli – Katsika.

The work was executed and completed in contrast to the Environmental Study of Lake Pamvotis that the Ministry of Public Works and Environment had approved in 2001, and the Management Plan of Lake Pamvotis that was composed from the Hellenic Republic - Region of Epirus in 2004.

In a distinctive passage, the 2004 Management Plan of Lake Pamvotis notes in paragraph 6.2 A.6: “In future, operations that are going to completely destroy the remain habitats by the lake, is the design of paved road on the embankment. The road will legalize all the fillings of lake areas, will completely cut off the by the lake areas from the lake, and will destroy the wetlands”.

11. In August 2009 we have provided a report with our comments concerning the draft of the General Master Plan of Ioannina, which is now being composed by the Ministry of Public Works and Environment. Our concern is that the draft fails to protect and conserve the lake environment.