Turks woo dam money

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey expects to attract up to $12 billion in foreign investment for new hydropower plants, which will also help ease summer water shortages in its big cities, the State Water Authority (DSI) said late on Wednesday. The pro-business government passed a law this year allowing foreign firms to set up joint ventures with local companies to build hydropower plants for the vibrant Turkish economy. «We expect to attract $10 billion to $12 billion of foreign investment to Turkey. We support efforts on this and expect foreign investment to come in a short time,» DSI Acting General Manager Haydar Kocaker told Reuters in an interview. The DSI is the main state institution in Turkey responsible for the use of water resources, planning and operation of dams and irrigation schemes. Ankara will provide electricity purchase guarantees to foreign firms for 10 years if they sell electricity at agreed prices, Kocaker said. He also said tenders for the construction of 960 new hydropower plants had been completed and construction of 100 plants had already started. «All of them are expected to be built within four years. When they are completed, the private sector will have established 15,000 megawatt total electricity production capacity in Turkey,» Kocaker said. Turkey – almost entirely dependent on energy imports of gas and oil – is having a dry summer and people need to cut their consumption until spring rainfall, Kocaker said. «Istanbul has sufficient water for the next 4.5 to 5 months… but the situation in Ankara is more serious. It has water for 78 days,» he warned. He said the government was planning to bring water to Ankara from the Kizilirmak River in central Turkey by the end of the year to end the capital’s water shortage. Turkish media have quoted Ankara city authorities as saying water supply cuts will start in August. «Everyone has a duty to overcome this difficulty. Citizens should cut their consumption of water,» he said. Water levels in Ankara’s dams fell to 5.5 percent this year from 23 percent last year, he said. For the whole of Turkey, that figure had fallen to 46 percent this year from 54 percent last year. The drought will make an impact on agricultural production, but he did not expect this to be drastic. Farmers are afraid that temperatures reaching 44 degrees Celsius and water shortages will hit their crops, and the government has predicted an 8 percent fall in the grain harvest this year.

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