Strategic reserve of Euphrates reservoir depleted to dangerous levels

TABQA, Syria (North Press) – An official in the Dams’ Administration of the Autonomous Administration of  North and East Syria (AANES) said on Saturday that they consumed 3.5 billion cubic meters from the strategic reserve of the lake of Euphrates Dam in Tabqa, northern Syria.

Currently, the lake’s water level has declined to 10.5 billion cubic meters out of 14.5 cubic meters, due to its depletion as a result of the lack of water coming from Turkey, according to the official.

Imad Obaid, an administrator at Euphrates Dam, told North Press that the agreement signed between Turkey and Syria allows for the flow of 500 cubic meters per second. However, the current amount of water that reaches Syria does not exceed 200 cubic meters per second.

The official noted that the quantity received from Turkey is not utilized for generating power due to “losses,” which are evaporation resulting from high temperature, drinking water, and the extraction of water for irrigation purposes, according to him.

Obaid added that six out of eight turbines currently do not operate, and the remaining two turbines operate at half capacity. He stated that each turbine is designed to produce 120 MW of electricity per hour, but due to the insufficient water supply, they are currently only able to produce 45 MW each.

The official did not rule out shutting down the dam since the maximum level of Lake Euphrates is 304 meters, but it has currently reached 298.45 meters, which is close to 296 meters, the dead level at which the dam would stop functioning.

Starting from February 2020, Turkey has been restricting the amount of water flowing from the Euphrates River into Syria, despite global and regional warnings of a potential health and agricultural crisis.

He said that over the past two months, the water level of the lake has been decreasing at a rate of two centimeters per day.

The man, who has been working for 37 years at the dam, highlighted the harmful impact on the summer crops of farmers who are currently unable to access water from the irrigation canals.

In the countryside of Raqqa, Tabqa, and Deir ez-Zor, farmers complain about the lack of irrigation water in the main canals and drought in artesian wells, which damages crops.

Reporting by Fatima Khaled/ Osama Ahmad