Drought-Hit Turkey Fails to Supply Syria with Promised Water
An unsually dry season has forced Turkey to decrease water flow to Syria to nearly half of the mutually agreed level, a senior Turkish official said Tuesday, reported (AFP)
"We used to let 500 cubic meters (17,500 cubic feet) of water per second" from the Euphrates river, the head of Turkey's waterworks institution, Dogan Altinbilek said, according to Anatolia news agency.
"Last month this level decreased to 300 cubic meters. We might not be able to maintain even this level in October, and maybe even until March," he added.
The decrease in the water level was due to a severe drought owing to an inadequate rainfall, which also hit power production in vital hydroelectric dams that Turkey had built on the Euphrates, Altinbilek stressed.
"This has nothing to do with keeping Syria's water," he added.
Turkey pledged to supply Syria with 500 cubic meters of water per second under a 1987 bilateral protocol on the waters of the Euphrates, which originates in Turkey and flows down to Syria.
The drought, which brought water level in the dams to their lowest level in 10 years, added to an already serious power shortage in Turkey owing to the country's growing energy needs and its failure to make adequate investments in the energy sector.
Last week, Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit announced a package of power saving measures for public offices, and urged the private sector and citizens to follow suit.
The water level in Ataturk dam, Turkey's biggest and the sixth biggest in the world, has fallen to 526.6 meters (1,738 feet), only 60 centimeters above the level at which power production becomes impossible, according to the energy ministry.
Sharing the waters of the Euphrates and Tigris, which also originates in Turkey and forms the border between Syria and Iraq, has long been a major point of contention between the three neighbors – (AFP)
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