Water drop in Euphrates River by Turkey portends humanitarian catastrophe in NE Syria

MANBIJ, Syria (North Press) – Hammoud Hamadin, an administrative official in the Tishreen Dam said on Saturday that Turkey’s reduction of the Euphrates River will lead the Tishreen Dam and drinking water pumping stations to stop working.

The water supply coming from the Turkish side has sharply decreased since the beginning of last April to less than 125 cubic meters per second, which is less than the quota stipulated in the Turkish-Syrian agreement relating to the Euphrates River, according to Hamadin.

According to the 1987 agreement signed between Damascus and Ankara regarding the Euphrates River, Syria’s share of water coming from Turkey is no less than 500 cubic meters per second on average, equivalent to 2,500 barrels.

Tishreen Dam, which is located 20 km southeast of Manbij, is considered the second largest power station in Syria after the Euphrates Dam in Tabqa.

Hamadin confirmed that the vertical drop of water in the Tishreen Dam lake is approximately five meters, knowing that five and a half meters is the entire strategic reserve of the lake (that is, the amount of water that can operate the dam).

The continuation of the low water level by Turkey and the cessation of the dam’s work for long periods creates a suitable environment for the multiplication of bacteria and the emergence of algae. The river turns into a swamp which portends the spread of diseases and epidemics, “on top of which is leishmaniasis, which has spread recently and in abundance,” according to the administrative official in the dam.

The administration of Tishreen Dam, which generates electricity, now relies on operating two turbines at a minimum, with a capacity not exceeding 120 megawatt-hours, which is a very low percentage and leads to increased malfunctions in the turbines due to operation and shutdown.

Before the level of water decreased, the amount of electricity generated by operating one turbine was 105 megawatt-hours of electricity, according to Hamadin.

“The dam stops working from ten p.m. until four p.m. which means the electricity is 6 hours on versus 18 hours off,” he added.

Reporting by Saddam al-Hassan