MIDDLE EAST: TURKEY TO TRANSITION FROM WATER SURPLUS TO DEFICIT

19 April 2018

THE BIG PICTURE
The forecast for the 12-month period ending December 2018 (below) indicates water deficits in many parts of the region, including exceptional deficits in northern Saudi Arabia, southern Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, southeastern Turkey, and large pockets in Iran.

Moderate to extreme deficits are forecast for Cyprus, Lebanon, West Bank, Israel, Jordan, and parts of Syria. Severe deficits are expected in Yemen, and generally mild deficits in Oman and the South Caucasus.

Surplus conditions are forecast along the northern border between Iraq and Iran.

FORECAST BREAKDOWN
The 3-month maps (below) show the evolving conditions in greater detail.

The forecast for the next several months, through June, indicates that exceptional deficits will recede across the region, but the extent of deficits overall will increase as Turkey transitions from surplus to deficit and severe deficits emerge in Yemen and western Oman. Exceptional deficits will continue to emerge in southeastern Turkey, southern Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, northern Saudi Arabia, and along the Persian Gulf in Iran. Intense deficits will emerge in Gaza, Israel, West Bank, and Lebanon. Deficits will downgrade, from exceptional to severe, west of the Euphrates in Iraq, except in the south, as previously mentioned. In Iran deficits will remain widespread but downgrade, leaving primarily moderate to severe conditions. Surpluses along the northern border of Iraq and Iran will shrink, and the South Caucasus will transition out of surplus, with some areas of intense deficit in Georgia.

After June, pockets of exceptional deficit will continue to emerge in northern Saudi Arabia, increasing in extent, and deficits in the south will upgrade to extreme. Exceptional deficits are also forecast for Lebanon and West Bank, and will increase in southeastern Turkey as deficits of varying severity emerge throughout Turkey. In southern Iraq, exceptional deficits will persist but shrink somewhat. Pockets of exceptional deficit are forecast in Iran along the border with Turkmenistan, in eastern and southern Kerman Province, and surrounding Shiraz in Fars Province. Mild deficits are forecast for the South Caucasus and northwestern Iran.

The forecast for the final quarter – October through December – indicates that deficits will diminish in the regional overall but remain intense in Saudi Arabia, Iraq west of the Euphrates, and in eastern Iran.

(It should be noted that forecast skill declines with longer lead times.)

IMPACTS
The Iranian energy minister has warned members of parliament that due to low reservoir levels power outages across Iran will be inevitable this summer. Hydroelectric production is expected to be 35 percent lower and water shortage is also putting drinking water at risk. Iran plans to impose sector-wide water consumption restrictions.

With approximately 97 percent of the country experiencing drought to some degree according to the country’s Meteorological Organization, Iran is in its worst drought in 50 years. In accordance with Iran’s 6th Five-Year Development Plan the government is working to identify sustainable development programs that can conserve water and to deny environmental licenses for industries or projects that use excessive water, especially in arid zones.

Farmers and residents continue to protest in the face of water shortages. Riot police faced off against farmers protesting in towns near Isfahan in an effort to quell the unrest. Protestors complain that mismanagement has exacerbated recent drought conditions and that water resources are being diverted due to bribery and corruption. Environmentalists calling attention to mismanagement issues have been arrested and one has since died in jail. The deputy of Iran's environmental department, a noted water specialist, has reportedly fled the country.

Continuing drought in Israel has led its energy and water minister to announce plans for two new desalinization plants along the Mediterranean coast. Five have already been built over the past 13 years. 

Heavy rains combined with snow melt in Bulgaria caused the Tunca River in Turkey’s northwestern Edirne province to top its floodplain. Agricultural areas in the floodplain were inundated as well as some historic sites in Edirne’s Karaağaç neighborhood. Border crossings with Greece and Bulgaria in the affected area were closed due to flooding.

NOTE ON ADMINISTRATIVE BOUNDARIES
There are numerous regions around the world where country borders are contested. ISciences depicts country boundaries on these maps solely to provide some geographic context. The boundaries are nominal, not legal, descriptions of each entity. The use of these boundaries does not imply any judgement on the legal status of any territory, or any endorsement or acceptance of disputed boundaries on the part of ISciences or our data providers.

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Many analyses reported in ISciences-authored blog posts are based on data generated by the ISciences Water Security Indicator Model (WSIM). Other sources, if used, are referenced in footnotes accompanying individual posts. WSIM is a validated capability that produces monthly reports on current and forecast global freshwater surpluses and deficits with lead times of 1-9 months at 0.5°x0.5° resolution. This capability has been in continuous operation since April 2011 and has proven to provide reliable forecasts of emerging water security concerns in that time-frame. WSIM has the ability to assess the impacts of water anomalies on people, agriculture, and electricity generation. Detailed data, customized visualizations, and reports are available for purchase.

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