The Blue Tunnel Project started transferring water on Thursday to the Konya Plain in central Turkey, which could be supplied with millions of cubic meters of water annually.
The tunnel, which is the most important leg of the massive Konya Plain Project (KOP), will enable 235,000 hectares of agricultural land to be irrigated with water which flows from the Mediterranean Basin to Konya Closed Basin.
"The water of Goksu River is collected in Bagbasi Dam, which was constructed in the first phase of the project with 180-million-cubic-meter capacity, and is directed to Konya Plain with a 17-km long Blue Tunnel" said Mustafa Uzun, a water official.
The second-largest irrigation scheme of Turkey after the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GOP), the Blue Tunnel, aims to provide the Konya Plain with 414 million cubic meters of water annually in order to maintain agriculture and save wildlife.
"We are witnessing a historic event as Konya has been dreaming of redirecting from the Goksu, a 260-km-long river in southern Turkey, to Konya Plain" said Uzun.
According to Uzun, the project began by Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II 120 years ago: "It was attempted many times through the years but the project could not be made real."
Stating that the water would be also directed to the Hotamis Storage via a 125-km channel, Uzun said: "The lake, which is going to be formed here, will be Turkey's biggest artificial lake."
"With this project, the climate of Konya will be changed, the product range will be increased and 700 million cubic meters of water will feed Konya Plain instead of emptying into Mediterranean Sea. Konya will not have any drinking water problems until 2050," Uzun added.
KOP is considered to be the most comprehensive project to bring water to the Konya Plain.
Over one million hectares of soil will be irrigated, 1.5 million people will have potable water, and three billion kilowatt/hours of energy will be produced annually when the Konya Plain Project is completed.