The critical water shortage and its economic and political impacts have been discussed by delegates at the International Water Forum held in Hasekê, northern Syria.
The shortage is mainly due to the diversion of the Euphrates River’s flow by Turkey since January 2021.
Although Turkey is obliged to allow a flow of 500 cubic metres per second according to a protocol signed with Syria on 17 July 1987, local sources have reported that recently only 150-200 cubic metres per second is getting across the border to north and east Syria.
The low flow is threatening to cause a massive humanitarian crisis in the region, where water consumption is dependent on the Euphrates.
The water shortage is indicated to have diminished agricultural production, the availability of fresh water and power production in the region while also triggering outbreaks of epidemics.
Speaking to Hawar News Agency, Hemûd El Hemadîn, an engineer and a member of the Tishrin Dam Board, said Turkey has cut the water flow of the Euphrates down to 180 cubic metres per second.
“The water level at the dam has dropped down another 4.5 metres recently,’ he said. “If it drops a further 70 cm, the dam will go out of production. In the meantime, the water level in the Euphrates has dropped another 6 metres recently.”
According to data provided by Hemûd El Hemadîn, 150 cubic metres of the 180 cubic metres of water received per second is used as fresh water and for irrigation.
He indicated that this has a negative impact on power production, and the hot summer months have made the situation even graver due to high evaporation rates.
Noting that there has recently been a 16-hour power cut, he said that power could now be provided only at certain intervals, adding that water shortages also caused sharp rises in agricultural production costs, and this in turn caused a rise in inflation.
He warned that many species in the Euphrates were in danger of extinction because of the fall in the water level and increasing pollution.
Delegates at the Water Forum criticised Turkey for its attempts to dominate its neighbours, Syria and Iraq, by holding back the water of the Euphrates and the Tigris in 22 separate dams and causing artificial water shortages in these two countries.