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Cablegate: Turkey's Water Worries - Waiting for April Showers

VZCZCXRO0942
RR RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHPB RUEHPOD
DE RUEHAK #0639/01 0800848
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 210848Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1396
INFO RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC
RUEHZN/EST COLLECTIVE
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC
RHEBAAA/DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA 0140
RUEHDA/AMCONSUL ADANA 1770
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 2367

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 000639

SIPDIS

USDOE FOR CHARLES WASHINGTON
USDOC FOR 4212/ITA/MAC/CPD/CRUSNAK

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958:N/A
TAGS: ENGR SENV EAGR TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY'S WATER WORRIES - WAITING FOR APRIL SHOWERS

ANKARA 00000639 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: With only 1642 cubic meters/year per capita
usable water, Turkey is far from a water-rich country and acutely
subject to increased dryness due to global warming. Now a
particularly dry winter has left many of Turkey's reservoirs at low
levels. Although Ankara authorities have cited a wide variety of
figures for months supply in hand, officials optimistically agree
that the solution is to wait for spring rains. The state water
authority DSI has undertaken a project to link an existing reservoir
to Ankara by pipeline. If spring rains fail to materialize, the
municipality would implement conservation measures. There appears
to be no need to panic (yet) about water shortages in the capital.
Concerns about drought and global warming will inform Turkey's
preparations for hosting the World Water Forum in 2009. End
Summary.

-------------------------------
April Showers Bring May Flowers
-------------------------------

2. (SBU) Turkey is experiencing one of its driest winters ever,
particularly in central Anatolia, including the capital of Ankara.
The Ankara municipality has announced a disconcerting variety of
numbers from six weeks to seven months for its supply, feeding worry
and speculation in the press and the public. Turkey's State Water
Administration (DSI) Study and Planning Head Ahmet Hamdi Alpaslan
told us that Ankara's reservoirs currently hold a three-month
supply, compared to the normal nine month supply expected at this
time of the year. Noting that 50-60% of the year's rain normally
falls in the February-April period, he asserted that it was too
early to be overly concerned. Alpaslan admitted that if spring
rains failed to materialize, the city would have to implement
conservation measures such as reductions in car washing and park
watering. He noted that DSI was working on a new pipeline link to
the Kesikopru reservoir on the Kizilirmak River, which would
supplement Ankara's water reserve by 250 million cubic meters by
this summer, compared to summer daily consumption of 1 million cu m.
Noting that the press raised concerns about the Yuvacik reservoir
near Izmit substantially drying up last January, Alpaslan stressed
that the modest winter precipitation had now filled it to 55%
capacity.

3. (SBU) In the face of these short-term woes, the Environment,
Energy, and Agriculture Ministries recently collaborated on a report
on "Climate Change, Drought, and Water Management", which focuses on
the long-term risks Turkey faces with respect to desertification and
drought from climate change. The recent UN Inter-governmental Panel
on Climate Change report identifies Turkey as an area at risk from
global-warming induced water shortages. Turkey's report calls for
action on new measures in energy and water conservation, planting of
trees, and improvements in irrigation and erosion controls.
Although Turkey's EU accession would eventually require adherence to
the Kyoto Protocol, many authorities cite the need for more time
and/or negative economic effects from the Kyoto Protocol. In a
press conference in early February, the three Ministers faced more
questions about the short-term water shortage. Their main solution
proposed was to wait for spring rains, claiming that it was too
early to speak of a drought.

------------------------------------------
The Rain Fails to Fall Mainly on the Plain
------------------------------------------

4. DSI Alpaslan said that the main shortages were in the interior
of Anatolia. He claimed that there was no significant problem in
Istanbul and the Black Sea regions. Ministry officials said alarm
bells were not yet ringing, but admitted drinking water shortages in
Ankara, Bursa, and Izmit provinces. Experts said that there was a
cumulative shortfall in precipitation from last year of 16.1 % in
Turkey, with shortfalls as high as 36% in Marmara, 43% in Aegean,
and 54% in western Anatolia, compared to last year, which was a
relatively normal year.

5. (SBU) The Ankara Mayor's chief Advisor, Murat Dogu, was sanguine
about the water situation, but could not clarify why the
municipality has announced six weeks supply of water in January and
seven months in March, with little rain in the interim. His views
on the water shortage were not confidence inspiring; he was critical
of the scheme to take water from the Kizilirmak river and dismissive
of city conservation measures.

6. (SBU) DSI and its corps of engineers are tasked with building
more dams to realize Turkey's hydroelectric potential, aiming to
increase the share of electricity from hydroelectric sources above

ANKARA 00000639 002.2 OF 002


the current share of 25-30%. DSI recently conducted a comprehensive
water survey for Turkey, citing Turkey's per capita usable water at
1,642 cubic meters/year, which classifies it as a country facing
risk of water scarcity. The report notes that Turkey has per capita
water potential of 3,690 cubic meters/year, if Turkey can build more
dams and implement better irrigation practices. The largest planned
dam is the Ilisu on the Tigris, controversial because of
trans-boundary issues with Iraq, and because it will flood the
historic city of Hasankeyf. Although the government commemorated
the project's groundbreaking in February, Austrian-German-Swiss
financing is still under study for acceptable environmental and
social criteria. The Austrian Commercial Counselor said the
Austrian export credit agency had approved financing, but the other
two agencies were still evaluating the criteria.

7. (SBU) In this climate of water worries, as well as concerns
about water pollution, Turkey hosts the international Congress on
Management of River Basins in Antalya March 22-24. The congress
also facilitated preparatory meetings for the 2009 World Water Forum
which will be hosted by Istanbul. WWF used the opportunity to issue
a warning that pollution, dams, and climate change pose serious risk
to the world's rivers.

8. (SBU) COMMENT: The Ankara Municipality's dismissive approach to
the water shortages is worrisome, but does not appear to warrant
panic. The relevant ministries' confidence in spring rains solving
the problem may be overly rosy and optimistic, but Ankara can wait a
few months to assess summer water stocks and associated plans for
assuring adequate supply.

Wilson

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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