The study area is located in the south – eastern part of the Cyprus, at the South-Eastern Mesaoria basin (Kokkinochoria). The area is characterized by a low relief terrain with almost no drainage network. The highest elevation of the inland part is just about 80 meters above sea level. The area’s mean annual precipitation is about 324 mm. Winter and spring seasons are usually followed by dry summers with little or no precipitation. The annual mean daily temperature of the study area is 20 oC with August followed by July are the hottest months and January followed by February are the coldest ones.

Land use map of Kokkinochoria area in Cyprus.

Τhe most heavily exploited aquifer is a sandstone and sandy aquifer of the upper part of Pliocene – Pleistocene sediments. The aquifer has substantial thickness especially in the south east. The base of the aquifer along the coastline is below sea level and in direct contact with the sea being vulnerable to seawater intrusion which has been documented as early as 1960.

Due to the low rainfall and the lack of drainage network, groundwater recharge is limited. The limited recharge, the high demand for water and the intensive and uncontrolled exploitation of the aquifer results in a negative water balance which has triggered seawater intrusion. The land is predominantly used for agricultural purposes (about 91%) and only a small part, approximately 4% is residential area whereas the rest 3% is state forest. Both agriculture, residential and tourist development of the study area along with the excessive use of fertilizers have degraded groundwater quality, especially in regards to nitrate concentrations. As a result, the area has been designated as a Nitrate Vulnerable Zone.