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Tourism - Modern Life Organizations Municipal Enterprise for Water Supply and Sewerage Larissa

Stock of EYHL (19 August 1929)
Water Tower (1929)
(Photo: Archive DEYAL)

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16/11/2008
The history of Municipal Enterprise of Water supply and Sewerage Larissa from 1881 until 1939

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The history and current presence of DEYAL at the service of the sectors of water supply, sewerage and environment in the city of Larissa is based on a long-term course, starting from the beginning of the previous century.

For thousands of years now, the history of Larissa, thanks to the location of the city near the river of Penios, has been linked to the river, especially regarding water supply and defence. In all centuries, the water has always been rare for Larissa and unhealthy. Till the early 20th century the water was taken from the part of the river that entered the city and from the central current, in order to be as clean as possible. The water that was taken in this way was loaded inside leather sacs. Animals carried the sacs to the neighborhoods of the city. The water sellers touted the water just like the other sellers touted their merchandise. They were referred to as water carriers or sac-carriers, because they were selling water inside sacs. However, this way of water supply had an impact in the health of residents. Abdominal typhus, dysentery, paratyphuses and other intestinal diseases were typical in Larissa.

1881: Larissa -that looks like a Turkish village- is liberated from the Turks. The inhabitants strived to recover and modernize the city.

1882: The First "City Plan" is elaborated and was enforced in 1886.

1890: The law DOX was voted for "water supply" to Larissa. The Municipality awarded the project to the engineer P. Protopapadakis (who later became Prime Minister of Greece) but he abandoned the project because he was unable to carry the burden of the financial cost.

1903: The Municipality had always been interesting in the "Miraculous Electric Lighting" as they used to call it, and in water supply. The Municipality bought the study of the site engineer Ioannis Govaris regarding the construction of a hydroelectric project at Vernezi of Penios. The project was never accomplished, due to the huge, for that time; cost (5 million golden francs).

1909: The City Council (Mayor Ach. Asteriadis) signs a contract with the "Penios" group of companies for the construction of electric lighting and water supply projects, including their exploitation for a period of 50 years. With the Municipality’s consent, "Penios" sold the concessions to the French company "OMNIUM".

1913-1914: "OMNIUM" commences the works in 1913 and installs machines of 220 Volt DC. The next year, the city center, public and private shops and many houses were electrically lighted. The projects for the electric lighting of the settlements and for the water supply projects were interrupted in 1914 because of the First World War.

1918: After the end of the war, the company does not continue the works, abandons every attempt for water supply and provides quite poor lighting. The Municipal authorities and the committee of occupational organizations start a tremendous effort to dismiss "OMNIUM", since the company does not fulfill its obligations.

1924: On 20 October 1924, the City Council unanimously declares "OMNIUM" in default and interrupts every relationship with the company, for breaching the contractual terms.

1925-1926: A financial body is formed, in order to undertake the project of electric lighting and water supply. This was the "Larissaiki Water Supply and Electric Lighting Company" but immediately –for legal reasons- it was renamed to "Water Supply and Electric Lighting Company of Larissa" or EYHL. On 22 August 1925, the EYHL memorandum of association was published in the Official Government Gazette. EYHL would have for 30 years the relevant concessions for water supply and electric lighting and the contribution of the Municipality would be 76% (1926).

In progress, EYHL managed to surpass every obstacle and Larissa was electrically lighted in June 1925. As soon as EYHL ensured the electrification of the city, the company proceeded immediately to the water supply. EYHL awarded the elaboration of a study and also asked from the Municipality to contribute to the project. On 21 December 1925, the then mayor Mich. Sapkas introduced the water supply issue of EYHL to the first City Council. The reactions were strong and variable because, even if this seems strange today, the implementation of a water supply system would affect many interests. On 23 February 1926, the decision of the City Council of Larissa enabled the implementation of the water supply system.

1927: The first works for water supply commence in Larissa. The works will be completed on 1930. The cost of the water supply projects was 20,000,000 drachmas, a huge amount for that time, which was covered by the inhabitants and the state did not have to pay a dime.

1930: All water supply projects are inaugurated in a festive ceremony. The prime minister, Eleftherios Venizelos attended the inauguration, pushed a button and immediately homes and shops had running water. Now the people of Larissa could enjoy sterile and healthy water, of top quality and, most of all, plenty.