Turkish hydroelectric scheme on the River Araks

5 m.   |  2019-03-04

Turkey invests financial and technical resources into the country’s infrastructure. For Turkey, special attention is paid to water resource management. Furthermore, Turkey has been building dams and hydroelectric power plants (HEPP) on the River Araks for the last decade.

Araks River Project

A ccording to the Turkish sources, the Kale HEPP (Kars, Kaghzvan, 17MW power), Serap HEPP (Kars, Kaghzvan, 29 MW power), Narinkale HEPP (Kars, Kaghzvan, 34 MW power), Sefaköy dam and HEPP (Kars, Kaghzvan, 33 MW power), Sena HEPP (Kars, Kaghzvan, 21 MW power) are built on the River Araks.

Sefaköy reservoir and HPS

The Karakurt dam and HEPP (Kars, 110 MW power), Mert HEPP (Erzrum, Köprüköy, 10 MW power), Rainfall regulator and HEPP (Kars, Kaghzvan, 24 MW power) are in the construction process. They are also planning to build Tuzluja reservoir and HEPP (Igdir, Tuzluja, 33 MW power), Aghabey HEPP (Kars, Kaghzvan, 15 MW power), Nazhan HEPP (Kars, Kaghzvan, 15 MW power); (see p. 52), and 2 HEPPs  Erzrum Province Teckman Region with 6 MW and 17 MW.

Narinkale HEPP

It turned out in 2018, that the Soylemez Dam and HEPP will be built on the River Araks, in the Erzrum Province Köprüköy Region, for irrigating the lands of hydroelectric and agricultural significance. Moreover, it will be the 4th biggest Dam in Turkey after the Uslu, Yusufeli and Silvan Dams. The construction will be completed by 2022.

Some Analysis

U ndoubtedly, Turkish water policy is in the focus of the Armenian foreign policy. According to some specialists, the dams built and the ones in the construction process on the River Araks and on its tributaries can possibly become a serious problem for the Ararat Valley irrigation systems. According to Yuri Javadyan, director of the “Hayjrnakhagits” Institute: “The steps involved of storing the Araks and Akhuryan waters in huge dams is an economic pressure on Armenia, and after a few years Armenia will face a serious problem of water resources and the 90 year convention will be disrupted. With the construction of new dams, Turkey will violate the 50% of water-usage rights and Armenia will face serious problems. However, it seems that Turkey will not take in consideration Armenia’s needs and will disrupt the convention”.


According to another professional assessment: “This developments will lead to a significant reduction of water flow in the Akhuryan and Araks transboundary rivers, and Armenia’s ability to meet water demand with waters from the above mentioned rivers will be at considerable risk” (See, Efficient use of ground water resources of the Ararat valley. The fishing industry role, 2016, p. 12).  

According to water industry experts in Armenia, the proposed dams that will be built in Turkey “Can have a major impact on the water outlets of the River Araks and on water resources of the Ararat valley, as the waters of the River Araks are used for irrigating 20000 hectares of the Ararat Valley ”(See, L. Azizyan, Vulnerability of the Ararat Valley’s surface water resources as a result of global climate changes, Yerevan, 2014, p. 40-41).

Serap HEPP

Based on the UN published report in 2018 (United Nations World Water Assessment Programme/UN-Water: 2018), according to the water situation on Araks, it can cause additional tension in bilateral problematic relations. The expert Aleksey Chichkin believes that there is no guarantee that Ankara will take Yerevan into account in case of the Araks dams’ construction.  This situation affects not only Armenia but Iran and Azerbaijan as well. Hence a full consensus should be formed between the countries having direct and indirect relations from a geographical viewpoint based on the issue of the Araks water usage.

Aleksey brings an example from the international arena: the agreement on the Daugava basin between RF and Latvia in 1990s, as well as the agreement on the Lake Chad and the River Narva between RF and Estonia. It is also worth mentioning the example of the River Mekong, when in 1995 China together with Lao, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand created the Mekong River Commission, which regulates the water issues of the participating countries.

Summing up our observations, we should state that some projects, such as the Tuzluja Dam, the construction of which should have been completed in 2016 have slowed down due to environmental issues. The deadlines of some of the construction projects have been extended. Such as the Karakurt Dam construction,  which is planned to finish by 2020.