A project discussed for years begins construction.
Turkey broke ground last week on a dam that will be used to supply water via an undersea pipeline to the Turkish-controlled section of the divided island of Cyprus, Famagusta Gazette reported.
Once the Alakopru Dam is completed in 2014, work will start on a second supply dam in Gecitkoy. Both will be used to send 75 million cubic meters per year through an 80-kilometer pipeline laid on the Mediterranean Sea floor. Twenty percent of the water will go for domestic use and the rest for irrigation.
The pipeline will be one of the longest seafloor water lines in the world. Several island countries already get water supplies from mainland connections, but none as long as the one planned for Northern Cyprus.
Singapore gets 40 percent of its water via a pipeline from Johor state in Malaysia. Many of the Seychelles islands are also connected by undersea pipelines, as is Hong Kong to Guangdong Province on the Chinese mainland.
In Cyprus, an arid island, water has been a source of near constant concern. Most rivers flow only a few months a year during the rainy season, and surface evaporation is high.
The Republic of Cyprus, situated on the southern two-thirds of the island, has a reservoir capacity of 332 million cubic meters, but a series of dry years caused water reserves to shrink to less than 10 million cubic meters in 2008 and 2009, forcing it to import water from Greece. Though storage has recovered, the reservoirs are still less than half full.
The pipeline will connect Turkey with Northern Cyprus, a section of the island it has controlled since it invaded the area in 1974 in response to a military coup on the island by Greek Cypriot nationalists wanting union with Greece.
The Cyprus issue is a major sticking point in Turkey’s relationship with the European Union and has derailed its accession process. Turkey does not formally recognize Cyprus, an EU member. Meanwhile, Turkey is the only country in the world that recognizes the status of Northern Cyprus as a separate entity.
The Greek and Turkish sides are in the midst of reunification talks, with a meeting hosted by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon planned for Nov. 18 in New York.