The Euphrates is the largest river in Syria. Originating in Turkey and flowing through Syria and Iraq, it joins the Tigris in Iraq and becomes the Shatt-al-Arab waterway, which flows into the Arab Gulf. The Euphrates is composed of two main tributaries, the Karasu and Murat, both originating in Eastern Anatolia and having numerous smaller tributaries. Turkey has unilaterally pledged to ensure the flow of 500 CM/s per second to Syria.
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The negative consequences of Middle Eastern regional conflicts for Jordan find an echo in climate change, which also aggravates the country’s water problems: it causes less rain to fall and feed the Jordan River and the Yarmouk River (the two rivers are shared with Israel and Syria). This situation forces people to rely on groundwater reserves, and they are increasingly depleting.
The annual amount of water used in Syria is about 15BCM. This comes from the Euphrates (50 per cent) and the Asi River basins (20 per cent). Of the water usage from the Asi River, 2,230MCM are used for irrigation, 320MCM for domestic purposes and 270MCM for industrial purposes. The total amount of water withdrawn from the Asi River is 2,730MCM
In all three riparian countries, the river is used mainly for irrigation, domestic water supply and hydropower. The Asi River is diverted to the Homs-Hama water channels and Ghab-Roudji irrigation systems to meet the needs of Lebanon and Syria. The water is also stored in the Zeita Dam for domestic and irrigation purposes and energy production.
Lebanon has announced the construction of the dam via the United Nations as per the UN Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses (to which Israel is not a signatory), which stipulates that signatories must give “prior notification of planned measures”. The plan is currently pending.