Turkish Ilisu dam's impact on growing dust storms in Iran

TEHRAN, Apr. 10 (MNA) – Turkey's unlimited construction of dams, along with other internal and external factors have caused severe drought and increasing dust storms impacting 25 provinces in Iran.

The Iranian capital of Tehran like many other towns across the country has witnessed a severe sand storm over the past few days.

Amid the growing problem, the Mehr News Agency (MNA) has published a report on the growing environmental problem in which the human factor plays also a significant part.

The newly built Ilisu Dam which is the second biggest dam in Turkey after the Atatürk dam, can significantly reduce the water that flows in the Euphrates river.

The massive Turkish dam seriously reduces the volume of water that flows from the Euphrates and Tigris rivers into the shared Hour-al-Azim lagoon situated on the border between Iran and Iraq.

The volume of the reservoir of Turkish dams on the two rivers of Tigris and Euphrates is 120 billion cubic meters, while the annual flow of these two rivers does not exceed 47 billion cubic meters in total! Ataturk Dam, which stores 75% of the Euphrates water, with a capacity of 50 billion cubic meters equivalent which is as big as 650 Iranian dams and is also equivalent to half the capacity of the total water in Iran and Ilisu Dam with more than 10 billion resorvior, prevents 56% of Tigris water from entering the Hour-al-Azim in southwest Iran.

Therefore, these Turkish dams have profound consequences for the strategic Hour al-Azim, two-thirds of which is in Iraq and one-third in Iran.

Meanwhile, the reduced water level of Tigris and Euphrates has made once farming fields into deserts in western Iraq and eastern Syria, from where the major part of current dust storms suffocating Iranian people originated.

Turkish Ilisu dam's impact on growing dust storms in Iran

There are reports that more than 6.5 million hectares of agricultural lands in Iraq and Syria have now become deserted lands.

Jamal Mohammad Vali Samani, head of Water Studies Department at the Iranian Parliament Research Center (IPRC) warned in an interview with Mehr last November that the newly inaugurated will give the Turkish government control over the bulk of the water in the region, adding that the Turkish government can use that control as leverage at the time of water scarcity or drought against other countries.

With regard to the Turkish Ilisu dam's consequences for Iran, he pointed out that even before the Turkish dam was inaugurated, the water on the Iraqi side that used to flow in Hour-al-Azim lagoon had significantly dropped compared to the past. He also noted that in fact, Iran was the only side that providing its share of water to the wetland.

"Over the past years, large parts of the Hour-al-Azim lagoon on the Iraqi side have dried up. With the construction of the new dam in Turkey, there is a possibility of more dried-up parts in the wetland which will increase dust storms resulting from droughts in our border provinces," the expert added.

He added the water that flows in the Hour-al-Azim lagoon on the Iraqi side would decrease significantly after the dam became operational, rendering Iraq to increase its pressure on Iran to let its water resources on the shared borders flow into the lagoon in the near future.

"Meanwhile, Turkey is building a dam on the Aras River, which can completely control the river and create a serious problem between us[Iran] and Armenia. In general, these water projects are pursued by Turkey for political purposes in the region," he further noted.

Samani also noted that "Reciprocal measures must be taken as soon as possible."

He further said that Iran should cooperate with Iraq in countering Turkey's actions.

He also called for the formation of a working group comprising different Iranian apparatuses such as the Foreign Ministry as well as the energy ministry and the environment Organization to appeal to relevant international bodies given the growing problem of dust storms which have intensified due to the water scarcity in Iraq.

The water management specialist further added that despite Iran and Iraq’s efforts to prevent Turkey from constructing the Ilisu dam, it was finally integrated by the Turkish president.

He also urged for an international treaty in the region for the fair use of water resources.

In reaction to the inauguration of the massive Turkish dam, the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said at the time that "Human and environmental dimensions must be taken into account."

Khatibzadeh also said that Iran had detailed negotiations on the agenda with Turkey on the impact of the dam on the Iranian people, which have to be held yet.

One has to bear in mind that other internal and external factors play a role in the growing problem of dust particles in Iran, including mismanagement of water to grow rice in the paddies in Iranian provinces of Khouzestan and Lorestan and other places which reduces the water that flows into Hour Al-Azim, in addition to Iraqi side's refusal to give its share of water to the lagoon.

KI/5462565

News Code 185511

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