It has been argued that dam construction and irrigation projects in Turkey and Syria would diminish the flow of the Euphrates River and increase salinity levels. However, previous studies have not systematically defined the baseline changes in the quantity and quality of the river water. In this study, we associate variations in flow quantity and quality of water with natural aspects. We analysed flow data from 1970 to 2010 for the river at the Turkish-Syrian border to assess the effect of upstream dam construction, correlating these data with precipitation variation in Syria in the same period. In addition, we compared flow data between Syria and Iraq in a period with no dam construction in those countries (2000 to 2010). Regarding water quality, we collected samples from the Turkish-Syrian and Syrian-Iraqi borders to identify levels of salinity through laboratorial analysis. We complemented the data analysis with fieldwork along the river basin, and with evidence from the literature. We conclude that the slight diminishing of flow as well as the increasing salinity towards downstream are both associated with natural aspects of the landscape, more than human actions.
- River flow
- First received 2 June 2016.
- Accepted in revised form 22 October 2016.
- © IWA Publishing 2017