Turkey halts filling Tigris dam after Iraq complains of water shortages

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File photo showing the Tigris river flows through the ancient town of Hasankeyf, which will be submerged by the Ilisu dam in southeastern Turkey, September 27, 2017. (Reuters)
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File photo showing on going construction work on the Ilisu dam in southeastern Turkey, September 27, 2017. (Reuters)
Updated 07 June 2018
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Turkey halts filling Tigris dam after Iraq complains of water shortages

  • Turkey has been heavily criticized over its water policies and their impact on the environment as thousands of villages were submerged among them a 12,000-year-old town
  • Around 70 percent of Iraq’s water resources flow from neighboring countries, especially in the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers which run through Turkey.

ANKARA/BAGHDAD: Turkey has temporarily stopped filling a huge dam on the Tigris River after complaints from neighboring Iraq, which is suffering water shortages, officials said on Thursday.
Turkey’s ambassador to Baghdad and Iraq’s water minister also said that the two countries had agreed that when Ankara resumes filling the Ilisu dam in July it will still allow sufficient water to flow into Iraq.
The dam, more than 20 years in the making, will generate electricity for a large area of southeast Turkey. But it has been heavily criticized over its impact on the environment and on the tens of thousands of villagers who will be displaced. Its waters will also submerge a 12,000-year-old town.
Turkey started filling the Ilisu dam last week, prompting deep concern over water shortages in Iraq. Ankara had already delayed the planned start by three months at the request of its southern neighbor.
Turkey’s ambassador to Iraq, Fatih Yildiz, said on Twitter that Turkey stopped filling the dam on President Tayyip Erdogan’s orders to address Iraq’s worries.
“As of this moment, Tigris waters are being transferred to Iraq without touching a drop of it in Ilisu,” Yildiz said. “With the second decision to postpone, we have shown once again that we can put our neighbor’s needs ahead of our own.”
The filling will resume on July 1, he said, adding that water will still flow into Iraq in accordance with agreements between the two countries.

“GIGANTIC PROJECT“
Iraq’s Minister of Water Resources Hassan Al-Janabi said Iraq had asked for the postponement and that the two countries had agreed on a way to fill it while still allowing adequate water supplies to Iraq.
“We asked them to postpone until the end of June. Turkey agreed and we were very happy,” he told a news conference in Baghdad. “The way the dam gets filled is very important...and we found a filling method that guarantees Iraq’s interests.”
Around 70 percent of Iraq’s water resources flow from neighboring countries, especially in the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers which run through Turkey.
The dam, which first got Turkish government approval in 1997, is a key part of Turkey’s Southeastern Anatolia Project, designed to improve its poorest and least developed region.
But Western export credit insurers quit the project saying it did not meet international standards on the environment and preservation of cultural heritage. The government later secured credit from three local banks to continue construction.
Erdogan said in an election rally two weeks ago that the 9 billion lira ($2.00 billion) dam, which he described as a “truly gigantic project” would start generating electricity next year.
Once it is filled, Ilisu will completely or partially flood 199 villages and the 12,000 year-old town of Hasankeyf, which is home to 78,000 people, according a report from a campaign group, The Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive.
Hasankeyf was used by the Romans as a fortress to ward off Persians. The town was later destroyed by Mongols and rebuilt in the 11th century by Seljuk Turks. Some of the ancient structures have been moved to a nearby area.
($1 = 4.4950 liras) (Reporting by Tulay Karadeniz Writing by Ali Kucukgocmen Editing by Dominic Evans and Andrew Heavens)


Camel dung fuels cement production in northern UAE

Updated 28 min 59 sec ago
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Camel dung fuels cement production in northern UAE

  • Farmers in the emirate of Ras Al-Khaimah drop off camel excrement at collection stations

RAS AL-KHAIMAH: Thousands of tons of camel dung are being used to fuel cement production in the northern United Arab Emirates, cutting emissions and keeping animal waste out of landfill.
Under a government-run scheme, farmers in the emirate of Ras Al-Khaimah drop off camel excrement at collection stations. It is then blended with coal to power the boiler at a large cement factory.
“People started to laugh, believe me,” said the general manager of Gulf Cement Company, Mohamed Ahmed Ali Ebrahim, describing the moment the waste management agency proposed the idea.
But after running tests, the company found two tons of camel waste could replace one ton of coal.
“We heard from our grandfathers that they used cow dung for heating. But nobody had thought about the camel waste itself,” said Ebrahim, whose factory now uses 50 tons of camel dung a day.
Cow dung has been tapped as a resource to generate energy from the United States, to Zimbabwe to China. Camel dung is a rarer fuel but one well suited to Ras Al-Khaimah, one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE, home to around 9,000 camels used in milk production, racing and beauty contests.
Each camel produces some 8kg of faeces daily — far more than farmers use as fertilizer.
A blend of one part dung to nine parts coal burns steadily — essential for cement ovens that work continuously at up to 1,400 degrees Celsius.
The main aim of the project is to prevent camel waste from ending up in the dump, with the government seeking to divert 75% of all waste from landfill by 2021.
“We don’t make use of it. The most important thing is for the area to be clean, for the camels to be clean,” said farm owner Ahmed Al-Khatri, stroking camel calves in the afternoon sun as a farm worker sifted dung for collection.
Authorities want more cement plants to adopt the practice and start using chicken and industrial waste, as well as sludge from water treatment, said Sonia Ytaurte Nasser, executive director of the waste management agency.
“Waste is just a resource in the wrong place,” she said.