[WSMDiscuss] Disaster Flood in the Tigris by a Turkish Dam

Zor Ekologiko Batzordea (Ekologistak Martxan) zor.ekologikoa at gmail.com
Thu Dec 20 12:06:01 CET 2018

*Disaster Flood in the Tigris – Made by a Turkish Dam*

Press Release, 19.12.2018

On the evening of the 13th December 2018 one of the three spillway gates of
the Dicle Dam at the Tigris River in Turkish-Kurdistan has broken. Since
then the water level in more than 200 km downstream river stretch increased
up to 6 meters and flooded a big area of land along the river with hundreds
of affected settlements. Fortunately nobody died, but the physical and
agricultural destruction is enormous and unique for the last decades.

The Dicle Dam1 <#m_-8445548210603469932_sdfootnote1sym> has been
constructed for electricity, irrigation and drinking water supply in the
north of the province of Diyarbakir with a height of 75 m and a volume of
595 Mio. m³ and is in full operations since 2000. Its reservoir has been
filled so much after long and intensive rainfalls that the dam operator,
the state owned energy company EÜAŞ, had to activate the spillway in order
to release water from the dam reservoir. The result of the bursting of one
of the three gates is the release of constantly 1600 m³ per second water.
This will continue until the water level in the dam reservoir will fall 11
meters which is expected for these days. Considering that the annual
average flow of the Tigris in this river stretch is less than 100 m³/sec
the dimension of the flood is better understandable.

Before the construction of the Dicle and the upper Kralkizi Dam – also
large – the Tigris had every 10-15 years such a high flow rate. The people
along the Tigris organized live corresponding to these natural floods which
have been cut with the operation of these two dams. Since 2000 people
started to settle down in the former flooding areas of the Tigris River. As
there were several hours for the warning by state authorities no people
have been killed by the flood. But many thousands people spent the night
outside with temperatures around zero degree. Among the affected areas is
also the lower parts of the historical Hevsel Gardens in the city of
Diyarbakir which belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Also the city
neighbourhood Dicle, a number of cafeterias in the urban area, several
fisheries, more than 15 sand querries and other business facilities have
been destroyed partly or completely.

It is assumed that due to poor maintenance and lack of training of the dam
personal the gate of the dam spillway has burst. The day after the chamber
of civil engineers (IMO) of Diyarbakir stated that these two aspects may
have contributed mainly to this disaster. In this framework for example the
gates need to be replaced on time what is questioned. In the first days
after the bursting of the gate, the risk was very high that the other two
gates could experience the same and the upper Kralkizi Dam as well because
the Kralkizi dam was also full and rains continued; luckily at a low level.
The IMO criticized furthermore that “the DSI (State Hydraulic Works;
responsible state body for water policies) did not take the right decisions
when one week before the disaster the rain started. Because of economic
reasons the dam reservoir has not been emptied at an early stage. Probably
it was supposed the rain would stop soon.“ Since the disaster the dam site
is controlled by the army and only few DSI employees are observed. Very
limited information is shared.

The chamber of geology engineers (JMO) of Diyarbakir raised that a critical
problem is that the Tigris in the upper 150 km stretch and several large
tributaries are categorized only as a creek3
<#m_-8445548210603469932_sdfootnote3sym>. This status means that no areas
of flood risk have been classified along the Tigris river which includes
the urban area of Diyarbakir. If necessary flood risk plans would have been
developed and corresponding measures against settlements and other
constructions in the wetlands taken, thousands of people would have not
been affected gravely. In its statement on the 17th December 2018, the JMO
proposed a plan how to implement a better policy. It needs to be stated
that profession organisations like JMO or IMO are not included in any
planning or discussion on dam and water policies.

The Mesopotamia Ecology Movement (MEM) critized that the current state
policies aim to dominate fully nature with engineering and narrow economic
approaches. Further the MEM stated: „One day the nature will strike back,
but in a harsh way. What we need is less extractivism and more harmony with
nature. In the next days we will understand better the destruction. We
think that with the mentality the state will be the source for more
disasters. We need no large dams, but small solutions for water supply,
developed and operated by local people which lead to much less consumption.
The Tigris should not be used for electricity, rather the river ecosystem
needs to be renaturated.“

The disaster caused by bursting of the spillway gate of the Dicle Dam shows
how problematic and destructive the dam policies of the Turkish state is
organized. It focus on maximum production of electricity and irrigation
without taking into consideration peoples rights to land, livelihoods and
basic services, balance and diversity of ecosystems and cultural heritage
(Tigris within Turkish state is source of first human settlements). The
state constructs and operates dams and related water infrastructures
without any participation and transparency.

In this sense the worst case is the Ilisu Dam and Hydroelectric Power Plant
at the lower Tigris in construction. If constructed it will lead to grave
social, cultural, ecological and downstream impacts and consequently is one
of the most controversial dams worldwide. There is still time to stop
construction of the Ilisu Dam which is equivalent to highest destruction
along 136 km Tigris River and 250 km tributaries and even in the downstream
river parts until South Iraq.

Link for pictures see Firat News Agency (ANF), 18.12.2018:
or see Arti Gercek, 14.12.2018:

Mesopotamia Ecology Movement
Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive

Email: mehdiplo at riseup.net and hasankeyfgirisimi at gmail.com
More information: www.hasankeyfgirisimi.net and www.mezopotamyaekoloji.org

Link for this press release: http://www.hasankeyfgirisimi.net/?p=761


1 <#m_-8445548210603469932_sdfootnote1anc>See official website of the State
Hydraulic Works (DSI), the responsible body in the Turkish for rivers and

2 <#m_-8445548210603469932_sdfootnote3anc>See Mezopotamya Ajansi,
17.12.2018. Link:

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://lists.openspaceforum.net/pipermail/wsm-discuss/attachments/20181220/2c979cd2/attachment.htm>

More information about the WSM-Discuss mailing list