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Cyprus

Minister denies seeking water from Turkey

The water project in the north cost €500m project and is expected to transfer 75 million cubic metres of water per year to northern Cyprus

Agriculture Minister Nicos Kouyialis on Monday denied that drought-stricken Cyprus has asked Turkey for water.

“Cyprus has not asked, nor does it intend to ask, for water from Turkey,” Kouyialis told the Cyprus News Agency.

“Cyprus uses desalination facilities which can produce all the potable water to meet the needs of all citizens.”

He was being asked to comment on earlier remarks by Veysel Eroglu, Turkey’s forestry and water affairs minister.

Speaking from Bolu province in Turkey, Eroglu told reporters there was “demand” – he did not say a request – for water from the south of Cyprus.

Eroglu was quoted as saying: “This is the first time I say this: there is an incredible amount of drought in southern Cyprus. The natural resources minister called. There is demand from that side. What can we do about this?”

It was unclear to which minister Eroglu claimed to have spoken to – Kouyialis or the north’s ‘agriculture and natural resources minister’ Nazım Cavusoglu – although the latter appeared to be likelier.

Kouyialis’ official title is ‘Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment.’

From Eroglu’s comments, it can be construed that the north’s agriculture minister was conveying to him an appeal from the south.

Eroglu added that this was not an issue that he could personally address, but that he would be raising the matter during Monday’s meeting of Turkey’s cabinet.

Turkey does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus.

An 80km-long subsea pipeline was completed in September 2015, piping water from Mersin, Turkey, to a receptor station in Kyrenia, in the north of the island.

The pipeline, a €500m project, is expected to transfer 75 million cubic metres of water per year to northern Cyprus.

In the south, water levels in reservoirs are depleted due to the ongoing drought. In October, the total amount of water held in reservoirs was 63 million cubic metres – a mere 21 per cent of total capacity – whereas last year reservoirs held twice this quantity.

There are currently four desalination plants which can produce a total 220,000 cubic metres of water daily, covering the supply needs of Nicosia, Limassol, Larnaca and Famagusta.

However in the Paphos area, which has no operational desalination units, there are 26 million cubic metres of water in reservoirs, short of the annual requirement of 28 million for the region.

Officials insist the desalination facilities can cover all needs, and that no cuts to drinking water will be necessary should the drought continue into 2017.

On average, desalination water costs 75 cents per cubic metre, while dam water costs 45 cents.

Last year the government paid €34m to desalination plants, and €50m in 2016. For 2017 the budget is €34m, with an additional €25m approved in case of increased water needs due to the drought.

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