Menu

Strategic Implications of the Ilisu Dam

After 12 years under construction, Turkey’s Ilısu Dam will soon begin storing Tigris River water. At 24 million cubic meters, its concrete faced rock-fill body is reportedly the largest of its kind in the world and second in Turkey only to Atatürk Dam on the Euphrates River. The reservoir will span 300 square kilometers and hold 10.4 billion cubic meters (bcm) of streamflow. This could sink the sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles, California, under several meters of water, but its more mundane purpose is to power six 200-MW turbines, the fourth highest installed capacity in Turkey, and generate 4 Gigawatt (billion kilowatts) hours of electricity per year, just under one month’s national hydro-power output for 2017.

The dam has drawn applause and criticism alike. Although the project began receiving public investment and attracting interest from multinational companies, foreign banks, and export credit agencies two decades ago, anti-dam activists eventually pressured external backers to withdraw from the project twice in the 2000s, forcing the Turkish government and domestic banks to cover its TL 8.5 billion price tag (about $2 billion at current exchange rates). Activists objected that this project would destroy the area’s cultural, ecological, and historical richness, as symbolized by the ancient town of Hasankeyf in Batman province, but as Wageningen University professor and water expert Jeroen Warner observed in a 2012 article, some of Ilısu’s opponents in the late 1990s stressed the dam’s potential to provoke “water war” instead of the above themes that became predominant later.

YOU MAY READ FULL ARTICLE BY SUBSCRIPTION TO STRATEJIST MAGAZINE...

Paul A. WILLIAMS
Prof., Researcher

Go Back

Comments for this post have been disabled.