A new construction phase was celebrated at the Ilisu dam site with a big ceremony last week: The Tigris river has been diverted at the construction site now flowing through three big tunnels. This diversion will be maintained for several years. Now the construction of the actual dam in the dry river bed begins.
The Turkish Minister of the Environment Veysel Eroglu called the Ilisu dam an “important strategic and economic project”. He stated that the project will be finished in summer 2014. After that it will take one more year to flood the reservoir.
It remains unclear, whether by “strategic” he is addressing the national Turkish-Kurdish conflict or the international consequences (mainly for Iraq). Once the Ilisu dam operates, Iraq will be even more dependent Turkish water policies. The livelihoods of about 6 Million people in Iraq depend on the Tigris river by using the water for irrigation or fishing. By cutting down the water flow, Ilisu will also put an end to the Mesopotamian Marshes, culturally and ecologically one of the most important areas worldwide. Continue reading