(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

New push for water deals with Turkey, Syria

[Iraq] Water treatment unit in Baghdad.
IRIN

Iraq is renewing efforts to reach deals with Syria and Turkey to increase water levels on the River Euphrates which flows from these two countries into Iraq, and on which Iraq is heavily dependent for agriculture and electricity generation.

 

Turkey has tentatively agreed to increase water levels on the river to allow Iraq to reactivate the 400-megawatt Haditha hydroelectric power station, officials say.

 

The deal - set to be concluded in two months’ time - could be part of a wider agreement with Turkey to import 200 megawatts of electricity, said a spokesman of the Iraqi Electricity Ministry, Musaab Al-Mudaris.

 

An Iraqi delegation is heading to Syria later this week to try to strike a similar deal. In recent years water levels have steadily fallen on the Euphrates due to below-average rainfall and the construction of dams in Turkey and Syria.

 

Iraq produces about 7,500 megawatts a day - less than half of current demand - and low water levels on the Euphrates (and the Tigris) have forced some hydroelectricity plants to reduce output or close.

 

For many years Iraqi officials have been pressing Syria and Turkey to sign agreements specifying a fixed share of the water from these two rivers for Iraq, but no deal has been reached.

 

“Iraq could experience more (water-related) problems, complexities and challenges unless it gets its fair share of water… Iraq faces great challenges in maintaining its wetlands and agricultural land,” said Ali Al-Alak, the Cabinet general secretary.

 

sm/cb

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