Syria: Damascus water shortage worsens : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Damascus water shortage worsens DAMASCUS (R) — A spring that has supplied Damascus with freshwater for thousands of years has dried up, leaving the Syrian capital with just four hours of supplies per day, a senior official said on Sunday. The official was quoted by the government's Tishreen daily as saying low rainfall during the last three years and a sharp increase in pumping were the main reasons for the severe shortage.

He said authorities had been forced to cut off supplies for the four million residents of Damascus for 20 hours per day, increased from 16 hours at present.

“The Fijeh spring has dried totally...75 artesian wells in the Damascus basin have also dried...our water supplies from other artesian wells around Damascus are declining gradually,” Tishreen quoted the official as saying. “The situation is serious and alarming.”

Officials told Reuters authorities were discussing several proposals including building desalination plants at cities on the Mediterranean and supplying the capital with freshwater from other Syrian cities.

But they said these were long-term plans. The immediate problem should be tackled by rationing and preventing waste, which required public cooperation.

The director general of the water authority in Damascus, Adeb Zain Al Abidin, said average daily supplies in July stood at 317,000 cubic metres, while the demand was 750,000 cubic metres a day.

The Fijeh spring and the Barada River have been supplying Damascus with drinking water for over 4,000 years. But resources have come under pressure as its population has risen sharply from just 300,000 in 1960.

Agriculture ministry officials told Reuters Syria had suffered three successive years of drought with average annual rainfall dropping by more than 50 per cent.

“Rainfall in 1991 stood at 927 mm while the combined rainfall of 1999, 2000 and 2001 was less than 900 mm,” one official said.

Syria is also suffering from a decline in supplies from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers which flow from Turkey into the northeast of the country.

-- Martin Thompson (, July 23, 2001

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