Turkish Cyprus homes still await water from Turkey
ANKARA/NICOSIAFresh water has not been pumped through a new pipeline to households in Turkish Cyprus, amid a continuing dispute between Turkey and Turkish Cyprus over who will run the water affairs of the newly-built pipeline, Turkish Cypriot sources told daily Hürriyet.
Turkish officials have, however, said both parties agreed on a build-operate-transfer model for the system, adding that fresh water can be piped to Nicosia anytime.
“Both sides have agreed to run the system on a build-operate-transfer model and the General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works [DSİ] will be the authority in the transition period,” said the Forestry and Water Affairs Ministry in a written statement on Dec. 28.
“The water has been piped to [Turkish] Cyprus now. The water is not pumped to the sea, but to the soil to feed ground water, which hit record low levels… The water can be piped to Nicosia whenever the [Turkish Cypriot] side makes a decision,” the statement added.
The Northern Cyprus Water Supply Project, dubbed “the project of the century,” is an international water diversion project designed to supply water for drinking and irrigation from southern Turkey to Turkish Cyprus via a pipeline under the Mediterranean Sea. The pipeline came online recently after a 1.6-billion Turkish Liras investment, but the water has not been flowing to households due to an authorization crisis, which has also negatively affected the financial protocol between Turkey and Turkish Cyprus, according to Turkish Cypriot sources.
The water crisis erupted over who would collect the bills. The Turkish Cypriot government wanted a company established by its municipalities to collect the water bills. The Turkish side has, however, opposed this idea and said the water is given to Turkish Cyprus free of charge, adding that the water distribution costs should be undertaken by the Turkish Cypriot side.
The Turkish side has also said the existing distribution network needed to be renewed for an additional 600 million liras, according to sources close to the matter. Turkey has also said the bill charging rates in the existing municipalities were fairly low, so these municipalities could not make any additional investment in the network, adding that private companies should be involved in the process in a competitive climate.
The water crisis has also created problems in talks on the renewal of the existing financial protocol between Turkey and Turkish Cyprus, as the water issues need to be added to the new protocol under normal conditions. The Turkish Cypriot side also didn’t realize a number of reforms, which it promised in the latest financial protocol, according to Turkey.
Turkey has urged the need for reforms to allocate over 1 billion liras of aid to Turkish Cyprus. As the new financial protocol was not instituted, the Turkish Cypriot side has faced problems paying an additional bonus salary to public servants and retirees.