Environmental Impacts of Dams | International Rivers
Water resources - Food and Agriculture Organization
In 1977, Turkey announced plans for the region’s largest water development project ever, the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP), which included 22 dams and 19 hydropower projects to be built on the Euphrates–Tigris. This project is intended to provide irrigation, hydropower, and socio-economic development in Turkey. The Syrian Arab Republic and Iraq fear that the project will lead to reduced river flows and leave little water for use in their countries’ agricultural and energy projects (Akanda , 2007). The construction of the Ataturk Dam in Turkey, one of the GAP projects, was completed in 1992.
Geography, population and climate
As the population of the region progressively increases, the demand for agricultural products increases and hence also the number of water supply projects. In 1973, Turkey constructed the Keban Dam in the Euphrates River Basin. The Syrian Arab Republic soon followed suit with the Tabqa Dam, also completed in 1973 and filled in 1975. The filling of these dams caused a sharp decrease in downstream flow and the quantity of water entering Iraq fell by 25 percent, causing tension between the countries (El Fadel ., 2002). The tension eased when the Syrian Arab Republic released more water from the dam to Iraq. Although the terms of the agreement were never made public, Iraqi officials have privately stated that the Syrian Arab Republic agreed to take only 40 percent of the river’s water, leaving the remainder for Iraq (Kaya, 1998). In 1976, Turkey pledged to release 350 m3/s from the Euphrates downstream and later in the same year increased the minimum flow to 450 m3/s, also in an effort to reduce tensions.