Turkey’s decision to cut off the flow of water in the Euphrates River has resulted in nine water pumping stations in northern Syria being out of service, exacerbating the region’s water crisis.
Water levels are falling in Syria’s largest reservoir, Lake Assad, created by the Euphrates Dam at Tabqa, on the Euphrates River in Raqqa Governorate, northern Syria. Tabqa city’s water board has reported that nine water supply stations have been rendered inoperative as a result of Turkey’s action of blocking the water flow of the Euphrates River.
The announcement was made after representatives from the Tabqa Democratic Civil Administration convened to discuss the matter.
Tabqa Water Board co-chair Hemud Shêx noted that Turkey has continued to deploy various inhumane tactics against the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration in North and East Syria (AANES). He highlighted Turkey’s strategy of using water resources as a weapon of war, pointing out the significant decrease in water levels in reservoirs, including the Tabqa dam. As a result of these actions, the Tabqa dam has suffered a loss of 4 billion cubic metres of water.
Shêx further stressed that all nine water pumping stations are now completely out of service, leaving residents who rely on these stations without water. He urgently called on the United Nations to intervene and put an end to war crimes committed by the Turkish state, especially against the regions of North and East Syria.
Fishermen too are affected by the falling water levels. Fishermen around Lake Assad say that they “barely take in five percent” of their catch of former times, blaming low water levels and worsening pollution for the decline in fish stocks.
Meanwhile, three main electricity supply stations in Hasakah, 240km to the east, went entirely out of service on Sunday morning. This disruption was due to the collapse of six high-voltage towers in the southern outskirts of the city. Azad Suleiman, an official from the Transport and Energy Office of the AANES, stated that the towers collapsed between the 66 kV line, the Eastern Dam station, the Southern Dam station and the Tel Tamr converter station, rendering them inoperative.
The collapse of these high-voltage line towers is attributed to theft operations targeting their supporting corners, which are made of copper. Suleiman stressed that this is not a new occurrence, as towers in this region are persistently and repeatedly subject to theft. He further noted that just two days earlier, four other towers, supplying electricity to the city of Hawl and its surrounding areas, also collapsed for similar reasons. After rectifying this issue, they learned of the fall of the six additional towers, situated 5 km south of Hasakah city.
There are over 45 towers on this line that have faced extensive theft, and they are now on the brink of potential collapse due to the absence of the supporting corners. Suleiman mentioned that the stations in question are receiving a temporary emergency electricity supply from the Al-Shadadi converter station, situated south of Hasakah, until the issue is resolved. Maintenance and emergency teams are set to begin repair operations on Monday morning.
Hasakah’s infrastructure crisis is not limited to power shortages due to incidents of theft. Experts warn about the potential catastrophe awaiting the city and its residents. An expert in water resources, Trad Sheikh Ibrahim, has raised the alarm over the depletion of underground springs and wells, putting the city’s very existence at risk. With over one and a half million people depending on these water sources, the situation has become critical.
The city has been dependent on these water sources for more than four years, since Turkey’s decision to cut the city off from the Alouk water station in 2019.
Ibrahim highlighted the disastrous consequences of this decision, which left the city reliant on groundwater extracted from wells. The dire state of the water crisis has led the Autonomous Administration to classify Hasakah as a disaster zone.
Trad Sheikh Ibrahim’s warning of a potential migration of city residents to villages in search of water underscores the severity of the situation. As the city’s survival depends on immediate action to tackle the crisis and secure sustainable water resources, local residents and water experts have called for the international community, including the United Nations, to step in and address the water crisis in Hasakah.