«According to old timers the emergence of the village in its present location is connected to securing a regular supply of water»

Karitsa is quite dry. Its climate and landscape do not lend to the formation of rivers or streams. Infrequent rains and light snowfalls are usually confined between November and April. Thus the village has always had a shortage of water. This has been a persistent predicament for Karitsiotes throughout the ages.

According to the old timers the emergence of the village in its present location is connected to securing a regular supply of water. Stories passed on by word-of-mouth put the beginnings of the village elsewhere. At first, during the greater stretch of Turkish rule, there were a few small hovel settlements in the lowlands of the area, namely
Toundeika Kalivia, Kondoyianeika and Sternitsa. In Sternitsa there are hovel remains such as roof tiles and wall foundations of a developed settlement. There is also the debris of the tiny church of Agios Dimitrios. The water-pit (sterna) there is dated more than 2500 years old. A larger settlement is said to have existed in Agios Thanasis, a little below Aetofolia and east of present day Agios Nikolas. Remains of buildings can be seen there to this day. It is speculated that the remains of a tiny church may be that of Agios Thanasis. This, however, is unsubstantiated conjecture.

The location of the village at Agios Thanasis, according to stories passed down, made life very tough for the early Karitsiotes. First of all there was a shortage of water. There are only a few wells nearby. Secondly they had to contend with a lack of satisfactory natural defense and protection from the Turkish oppressors who demanded heavy poll taxes. Moreover they lived in fear of islamification, genocide and the mass kidnapping of their children. Thirdly, as is often brought up in chats among locals, the air around Agios Thanasis was unhealthy and diseased, teeming with mosquitoes and annoying gnats. This drove the first Karitsiotes to move their settlement. But where, and how?

It is said, that one fine day a shepherd from the Tsembelis family was looking after his goats and sheep grazing on upland scrub overlooking the old village. As the flock was grazing a billy-goat leapt out of a prickly bush with water dripping from its beard. Hence, it is explained, they came upon the first surface source of water in the area. The find led to the beginning of the village in its present location, a healthier spot with clean air, out of sight of the Turkish oppressors and especially with a constant source of running water.

This spring is now known as
Kendriki Vrisi (main water-tap), situated below Toundeiko Roumnai (scrub) of Dothe Gitonia (this neighbourhood). In the olden days Karitsa was supplied with water chiefly from this single tap. A lot of houses were built nearby. An inscribed stone on the wall of the water-tap makes it known that improvements were carried out in 1876.

Old timers speak of another water-tap in
Pera Gitonia (far neighbourhoood) east of Melego. In 1955 the village council built a covered dam there to collect the water and provide for the needs of that neighbourhood.

Lefko, a water-well that never dries up, is preserved to this day in the centre of the village. Enjoying the shade of a box elder tree (sfendami) the well is said to be as old as the hills. Nearby houses get water for their gardens from Lefko. It is known as Lefko (poplar) because a towering poplar preceded the box elder tree in providing the much-talked about shade.

There are, as well, numerous small wells scattered in various parts of the village and nearby gardens, fields and grazing land. In 1990 the village fields-guard, Andonis Katsambis, recorded 114 water-wells (pigadia) and water-pits (sternes) in the area.

None the less the struggle for more sufficient and improved water supply continued. In 1956 the American-Karitsioti, Kostas P Andoniou, paid to run a water pipe from the upland source
Koprisia to Kendriki Vrisi. The water from the new tap known as "Koprisiotiko" became much sought after from the very beginning. Housekeepers declared, "the water from Koprisia helped digestion and was better for drinking and cooking".

Such works served to ease but by no means solve the shortage of water. With the passing of time, the development of the village and rising expectations of its people the water available from all sources was not sufficient. As a result for virtually the last 20 years the former village council tried again and again to find underground waterbearing basins. Towards the end of the seventies on the advice of expert geologists drilling work was begun in Dariva, east of Koprisia. Unhappily to no avail.

Ten years later, the village by now more demanding and desperate, got ready for one more go. Drilling to a depth of 123 metres took place in the lowlands beside Agios Nikolas, near the remains of an earlier settlement. Once more it was all for nothing. However, such was the collective disappointment amongst the villagers that it served to unite and make all more determined to continue the struggle against the odds of nature.

Close on four years later, in 1991, a return to Dariva for yet another try brought the coveted smiles to the faces of the village. Water was struck in the bowels of Rahi Asfaka. It pours out at the rate of three tons each hour and manages to cover the daily requirements of the village.

The subsequent plans of the village continued to be connected to the supply of water. First of all there was a need to build a reservoir and then run a network of pipes. A reservoir to store water was built beside the bore. The network of pipes to supply water by natural flow to every house in the village remains incomplete.

Completion of such works will depend on the availability of funds and on the priorities of the new area council of Geronthres that Karitsa joined on 1 January 1999. Four years later, outgoing mayor, Lambros Vourvouriotis, in his farewell message expressed sorrow because, "Difficult financial circumstances and pressing problems in our area council did not allow me to do as I wanted or wished."  He departed on an optimistic note, however, since as he put it, "I depart leaving behind a sum of roughly 150 million drachmas earmarked for the water of Karitsa which, among other budgets, was not spent because of bureaucratic bungling."   

The village of course united as one and led by its three council representatives will try very hard to convince each successive mayor, area council, and council executive to continue this age long quest. The struggle of the villagers for water most definitely is not over. It is reckoned that once each house has running water, the new more modern lifestyle will bring about an increase in consumption. Inevitably the search for new sources of water and more drilling is set to continue. The struggle goes on!

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