News Feature | February 19, 2014

World's Longest Undersea Pipeline Faces Political, Technical Challenges

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

Turkey

Turkey is funding the world's longest undersea water pipeline, hoping to deliver water to the nearby island of Cyprus.

The first kilometer of pipeline was laid in December "on the $484 million project backed by Turkey Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to quench thirsts in the breakaway Cypriot state. The centerpiece is an 80-kilometer (50-mile) pipeline to be suspended as much as 280 meters (919 feet) under water," Bloomberg reported

But the major infrastructure project, already behind schedule, faces some tough political and technical challenges. 

The project’s finish date was “already pushed back three months to June," but has been going forward despite the difficult political situation in the area, Bloomberg reported

“Cyprus has been split between the south, a European Union member, and Turkish-held north since Turkey invaded 39 years ago to quash a coup aimed at uniting it with Greece,” the report said.

Hopeful signs about the conflict arose last week. "Talks on the reunification of Cyprus are to resume following agreement between Turkish and Greek Cypriots on a negotiations roadmap," the BBC reported. "A roadmap for talks was agreed on Friday after several months of talks."

The pipeline has also raised cost and environmental concerns. 

It is “not the best solution both in economic -- too expensive -- and environmental terms,” said Cypriot government environment commissioner Ioanna Panayiotou to Bloomberg. “Water is sensitive and might get polluted during the transfer.”

Cyprus is highly water-stressed, according to the World Resources Institute. Cyrus authorities have conflicting water plans, according to Bloomberg

"While Turkish Cypriots are relying on Turkey for fresh water, the Greek Cypriot south is building three desalination plants to add to its existing two," the report said. 

The project broke ground three years ago when a dam was built in Turkey aimed at getting water to Cyprus, the World Bulletin reported.

"Turkey says a new water treatment facility to supply water for agriculture to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) will be completed within the year," the report said.

"[Agricultural] production will increase and welfare will enhance, which will also reinforce connections between Turkey and the TRNC," Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said last week, according to the report. 

Image credit: "Turkey 370," © 2011 eva.jane, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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