Water from Turkey began pouring into the TRNC via an undersea pipeline as the “Project of the Century” entered test mode last week.
Officials say they are now testing pumps that will eventually propel 75 million m3 per year of fresh water from the Alaköprü dam in southern Turkey, via an 80km-long pipeline, 250m beneath the sea, to the Geçitköy reservoir in North Cyprus.
TRNC Tourism Minister Faiz Sucuoğlu visited the site on Wednesday where he sampled some of the first drops of water to reach the Güzelyalı facility.
Speaking to Cyprus Today, Mr Sucuoğlu said: “The system has now been cleared of sea water and water is coming through at a slow rate as the pumps have not yet been switched on. I wanted to taste the water myself after some media, which were trying to discredit the project, reported that it was from the sea.
“The water tastes delicious and sweet, exactly like bottled mineral water that we buy in shops. This is a realisation of a dream and the first such project in the world. It is very important for the economy.”
Birol Çınar, TRNC head of the water project, spoke to this newspaper yesterday from Anamur, where he went on Thursday to oversee pump testing. “We are at a turning point in the whole project,” he said. “Water is currently naturally flowing from Alaköprü via the pipelines at a slow rate without the use of electricity or pumps. We are now setting the configurations of pumps to test their maximum capacity, to ensure that the 75 million m3 of water per year is pumped to the TRNC. This is a very exciting time for all of us following many years of planning and hard work.”
Mr Çınar said a major ceremony was planned for later this month to mark the latest milestone. Meanwhile the arrival of the water has reignited a debate over who will administer it in the TRNC. Coalition partner Republican Turkish Party-United Forces (CTP-BG) general secretary Tufan Erhürman posed the question “whether there was any other example in the world where a country relied on a private company for its entire water distribution?”
He said: “The correct way is to have an autonomous regulatory body which administers the water to come from Turkey and the underground water reserves.”
The Rauf Denktaş, Way of Thinking and Living Association chairman Latif Akça issued a statement, saying: “The project and the distribution of water should be left to competent people who know their job. Municipalities and those who just want to profit from this project should take their hands off it.”
Municipalities’ Union chairman Mahmut Özçınar reiterated its position that local administrations should have authority to distribute the water to homes and businesses.
By Kerem Hasan for Cyprus Today