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Dam drying up river in Turkey's Rize province

ISTANBUL - Daily News with wires | 7/6/2010 12:00:00 AM |

The inauguration of test production Friday at a hydroelectric power plant in Rize threatens to dry up the İkizdere River, local residents have said.

The inauguration of test production Friday at a hydroelectric power plant in the eastern Black Sea province of Rize threatens to dry up the İkizdere River and damage important natural habitat, local residents have said.

The river dried up along eight-and-a-half kilometers of its length, between the villages of Cevizlik and Soğuksu, after production began on an experimental basis at the Cevizlik Hydroelectric Power Station in Rize’s İkizdere Valley, daily Radikal reported Monday.

“Even though the river’s flow had increased due to the heavy rain over the last few days, the limited water released from the power plant caused the river to appear as if it was suffering from drought,” said Ömer Şan, the speaker of the Rivers Friendship Platform. He claimed the plant was releasing at most 500 to 600 liters of water per second, rather than the 2,800 liters per second the company had promised.

“The river’s drying up affects the life and the climate of the region negatively. Fish and other living creatures cannot continue to live in this water,” Şan said. The İkizdere Valley has been identified as one of the 200 most important valleys in the world in terms of its endemic flora and fauna.

The lack of water also forced the closure of the İkizdere River, the former site of Turkey’s rafting championship, to all rafting trips other than some short-distance training runs, said Şafak Tatoğlu, the vice president for rafting of the Developing Sports Branches Federation. The drought caused the river to lose its qualities as an ideal course for rafting, Tatoğlu said.

The Sanko Company began construction on the 95-megawatt Cevizlik power plant four years ago. In March 2007, the İkizdere Association filed a lawsuit with the Rize Administrative Court asking that work on the facility be discontinued because the amount of water that would be released by the dam would be insufficient to sustain life in the river. As a result of the suit, the court ordered the company to release 500 liters of water per second rather than 150 liters per second.

A subsequent objection based on reports by the State Waterworks Authority, or DSİ, led the court to order an expert examination and decide that the amount released per second should be 2,800 liters instead, daily Radikal reported.

According to Şan with the Rivers Friendship Platform, the İkizdere Valley runs for 64 kilometers and the dams planned for the area will affect 55 kilometers of the river’s length.

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