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Cablegate: The Akp Brings Water to Istanbul

VZCZCXRO8685
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHIT #1049/01 3451045
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 111045Z DEC 07
FM AMCONSUL ISTANBUL
TO RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7738
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHDA/AMCONSUL ADANA PRIORITY 2326

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ISTANBUL 001049

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

USDOC FOR 6000/ITA/OEE/RATHKE
USDOC FOR 3140/CLINE/GUERRO/ANDERSON
USDOC FOR 3133/FCS/EUROPE/BREIDENSTINE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EINV ETRD SENV PGOV TU
SUBJECT: THE AKP BRINGS WATER TO ISTANBUL

REF: ANKARA 685

ISTANBUL 00001049 001.2 OF 002


SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED, PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY

1. (U) Prime Minister Erdogan presided over the official
opening of the Melen Project, a massive endeavor to provide
residents of Istanbul with sufficient water. This project
diverts water from the Melen River and pipes it about 150 km
westward to Istanbul. The ceremony celebrated the completion
of the first phase; however two additional phases will be
needed to meet the city's water needs in the coming decades.
The project provides an opportunity for U.S. firms,
noticeably absent from major water projects in Istanbul.
Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials will likely
highlight this project as a success story in the lead up to
local elections, roughly 15 months away.

--------------------
Erdogan Turns on the Tap
--------------------

2. (U) Prime Minister Erdogan proudly boasted that Istanbul
does not face the threat of a water shortage at the official
opening ceremony for the Melen water project. At the
ceremony launching the first phase of the Melen Project in
Istanbul on December 2 the Prime Minister credited himself
for initiating this project. According to Erdogan, the city
only had a 60-day reserve of water when he became Mayor of
Istanbul in 1994; however due to efforts begun while he was
in office this problem is now solved.

--------------------
The Melen Project
--------------------

3. (U) The Melen Project redirects water from the Melen River
located in Duzce province, roughly halfway between Istanbul
and Ankara. A network of about 150 km of pipes carries the
water to the Asian side of Istanbul, refilling reservoirs
that are being depleted by current usage. To get the water
to the more populous European side, a 5,551 meter long pipe
will be laid under the Bosphorus. The recently completed
first phase will supply 268 million cubic meters of water per
year, and by the end of third phase about 1180 million cubic
meters will be provided to Istanbul annually, enough to meet
the city's expected water needs until 2040. The city of
Istanbul and the central government jointly administer this
project, sharing the USD 2 billion price tag.

4. (U) Extracting water from the Melen River is creating new
pressures for water treatment to meet EU water quality
standards. Press reports note over 90 percent of the
factories on the Melen River do not have adequate water
treatment facilities. The State Water Works Administration
(DSI) has given firms up to four months to install new waste
water facilities or face stiff fines. Furthermore Professor
Saatci, an advisor to the Istanbul Water Administration told
Poloff growth of illegal squatter settlements are also
complicating treatment efforts and. stressed the need to
begin work immediately on the second phase of Melen to avoid
potential future water shortages.

--------------------
Opportunity for American Firms
--------------------

5. (SBU) Saatci noted U.S. firms were noticeably absent from
Istanbul water projects. French, German, Italian, and
Japanese firms have dominated the manufacturing and services
market for this field in Istanbul, reducing the pool of
vendors for the municipality to choose from. Saatci
indicated he was eager to use U.S. products; in early
December he plans to travel to New York with Mevlut Vural,
the General Director of the Istanbul Water Authority, to
research potential American products. Saatci mentioned that
he was impressed with American technology, and that U.S.
firms, particularly water treatment equipment manufacturers,
are missing an opportunity to do business in Turkey.

--------------------
Comment
--------------------

(SBU) Even before the completion of the first phase of the
Melen Project, Istanbul was able to escape the water
rationing that Ankara citizens suffered last summer (reftel).

ISTANBUL 00001049 002.2 OF 002


The Melen Project will help ensure that the city has
sufficient quantities of water for years to come.
Successfully supplying Turkey's largest city with water will
surely be highlighted by Justice and Development (AKP)
officials in the run-up to the March 2009 local elections.
End Comment.

WIENER

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