Jared Enriquez: Sustainable Water Management in the Tourism Economy: Linking Santorini’s Ancient Rainwater Cisterns to Modern Demands

a white building on Santorini, Greece, overlooking the ocean
View of the famed Santorini caldera from a walking trail, with a church cistern wedged into the cliff. photo / Jared Enriquez
a concrete well capped with a decaying wooden on a cliff above the sea
Detail of a cistern on a proposed water trail. The rotting of the wood indicates disuse. photo / Jared Enriquez

Jared Enriquez is a third-year Ph.D. student in the city and regional planning department. His doctoral research agenda investigates the relationships between growth management planning and water security, the equity implications of environmental and economic development policies, and the diversification of urban development and environmental management leaders. His dissertation focuses on equitable growth management in aging, amenity-based communities, concentrating on how homeowners utilize climate change and risk management policies to negotiate objectives for rural authenticity and economic development. Before studying the nexus of sustainable rural development and risk management, he examined the social and physical construction of gated communities and other exclusive spaces. After his Ph.D., he hopes to become a professor engaged in applied planning research and theories of urban development and social organization. Enriquez received his B.A. in architecture and urban studies from Yale University, and M.U.P. (master of urban planning) from the University of Michigan.


Santorini, like other sites of mass-tourism, features an economy reliant on vast quantities of water. Today’s inhabitants have largely abandoned the traditional use of cisterns that sustained the island’s pre-modern civilizations in favor of water obtained from desalinization, ship deliveries, and illegal well withdrawals. In June of 2016, Cornell students and researchers worked with the Water and Sewage Authority of Thera (ΔΕΥΑΘ) to assess the viability of restoring traditional rainwater harvesting cisterns. The team surveyed five cisterns, held meetings with water authority staff and mayoral leadership, and coordinated with Global Water Partnership-Mediterranean. They concluded that cisterns could be rehabilitated as decentralized storage reservoirs that could be integrated with the island’s centralized water systems, with some serving as educational and cultural spaces used to communicate the importance of water to residents and tourists. The research findings highlight how preservation strategies and third-party partnerships in tourism economies could assist water management efforts.