I first tried to photograph this lake a few years ago. I knew it had completely dried out and I wanted to capture the size of this catastrophe. Since I didn’t know exactly how to get there, I headed to the village of Agios Vasileios, thinking that I could find some passage to the lake from there. However, I was not able to find such passage or anybody to ask, so I kept circling the lake with my car. At some point when I was at the other side of the lake, I decided to leave my car and walk through the fields towards the lake. Again I could not reach it. I could only see some small signs with numbers on them. I later came to know that these signs once showed the lake’s limits, which was now nowhere to be seen. I was not able to find the lake, or its remains, so I left empty handed.
Over the last few years the lake started getting some water back and some of its inhabitants, birds and fish, returned. I decided to include Koroneia in the unseen Thessaloniki series, because of its history. The photoshoot I had planned turned out to be full of surprises, as I eventually had to go to the lake three times to make it happen, as if someone was sabotaging me. The fisrt time my memory card failed and I lost all the pictures. The second time the weather was unsuitable and the third time I did complete the photoshoot, but when I downloaded the pictures on my pc I realized I hadn’t been shooting raw files. I at least hope all these setbacks were for the best.
Lake Koroneia (or Lagada) lies some kilometers outside Thessaloniki and during the last years it has faced serious drying issues. Before it started losing its water it was the fifth largest lake in Greece. Lake Koroneia – as well as the neighbouring lake Volvi – has been characterized as an internationally important wetland (Ramsar) and special protection zone for wild birds, natural habitats and wild fauna and flora.
It’s a beautiful wetland that has been drained by thousands of illegal boreholes and infected by nearby factories that turned waters into toxic mud. After the 80s the water levels started to fall gradually. Millions were spent in both greek and european funds for the lake’s salvation, but most of them ended up in a bottomless pit.
In the summer of 2007, 30.000 birds died and in 2008 the lake dried out. For a long period no migratory bird would come to the lake, instead they went to lake Volvi, were the food was not enough. In 2014 during the fall and winter seasons, as well as during the spring, the heavy snow and rainfall brought water to the lake, which was 2 meters deep in some spots, and covered spots that were previously completely dry. After almost 10 years the lake became once again home to thousands of wild birds.
The former governor of Thessaloniki, Panagiotis Psomiadis, was sentenced to 11 months in prison in 2014, concerning the lake’s environmental death. The case was examined in second degree and it was about the delay in enforcing fines or their reduction against industrial units around the lake’s area.