The drought-hit Mediterranean island of Cyprus will seek to import water from Lebanon rather have to impose usage restrictions, the agriculture ministure said on Friday.
"One key measure we are looking at is the transportation of water in tankers from a neighbouring country, and our efforts are focusing on Lebanon," Michalis Polynikis told reporters after holding a crisis meeting on Friday.
He said experts are now examining the feasibility of shipping large quantities of water by tanker from Lebanon, with a final decision expected within 10 days.
Polynikis said Lebanon is willing to give Cyprus large quantities of water free of charge, so the only cost would be transportation. There is also the logistics of getting the water from the ports to a reservoir once it arrives by ship.
Crisis talks were held to find ways to survive a chronic water shortage brought on by a two-year drought and unseasonal warm weather.
Polynikis said he was searching for the "least painful" alternative for Cypriot citizens.
Another option under review is imposing water quotas for every household and those found exceeding the limit being charged a premium.
Although opposed to water cuts, Polynikis said a quota system on consumption would "send the message to ordinary people that they must conserve water".
A regime of on-the-spot fines for water wasters seems to have failed to raise awareness over the island's dwindling water resources.
Cyprus's reservoirs are now at only 10.4 per cent of capacity, down from 25.6 per cent this time last year.
Rainfall for the winter months is well below the average expected for the period, with precipitation failing to reach 50 per cent of the norm.
As part of a longer-term solution to the holiday island's water problems the government plans to build more desalination plants and bolster output from existing ones.
After April, heavy rain is not expected before October. (AFP)