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NO RAIN BUT NO PAIN!

As climate change woes climb, Türkiye is on alert against the impact of drought but projections show no immediate water shortage despite a lack of proper rainfall in the autumn, at least for big cities…

Drought concerns are increasing in semi-arid Türkiye and climate change is the main culprit. For most of the country, it was a relatively warm autumn while the western cities rarely saw precipitation.

But the silver lining is here: State Hydraulic Works (DSI), in charge of water supplies, in its projection highlighted that Istanbul, the country’s most populated city, the capital Ankara and third largest province Izmir will not suffer from any water shortage. The projections for the next four to eight months indicate enough water capacity to cover the needs of the three cities.

Figures by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry show cumulative average rainfall across the country between Oct.1 and Dec.1 decreased by 28.6% in the long run. Yet, rates show dams are full. For instance, 299 dams used for irrigation are 25.8% full, while 106 dams collecting water for human consumption have more or less the same water levels and 146 dams used for energy production are brimming compared to last year.

For Istanbul, the active water rate in dams is only 7% lower than in the same period in 2021. Even if the dams supplying the city, do not have more water, the city will be able to cater to its water needs for about four months. In Izmir, dams also have lower water levels but they pumped more volumes of water through underground water resources. In Ankara, the situation is a bit different, with more water compared to the dams compared to the same period last year. The capital has enough capacity to quench the water needs of the population for about eight months even in winter with no precipitation.

Last month, the DSI held a water management workshop with representatives of sectors dependent on water use, from agriculture to industries and is expected to issue a report on more efficient water management. Experts suggest that the fair distribution of water, compliance with protecting the environment and efficient use of water are key to water management.

Water use dominates the agenda of Türkiye at a time of climate change that parches water bodies. Figures reveal water loss as one of the factors contributing to the challenge, averaging 33.5% in Türkiye. Water loss refers to leaks and other elements in malfunctioning, insufficient water grids and pipes. The country seeks to decrease this rate to at least 25%. The ministry says irresponsible individual use of water means 93 liters of water waste per person in Türkiye daily. It already broadcasts public service announcements urging citizens to cut back the unnecessary use, like leaving the water running while brushing their teeth.

Türkiye has taken several steps in the past decade, including managing water at its source in 2011 at river deltas and implementing plans against drought and separate action plans for water management in each sector that requires high water use, from industry to agriculture.

Water going to waste is the primary concern for authorities in the country embattled by drought last year. Moreover, its prevention is expected to put back millions of Turkish liras into the economy.

Türkiye spent $1.7 million (TL 25.6 million) in the past decade to rehabilitate and preserve 95 areas designated as wetlands, which amounts to over 1.08 million hectares (2.67 million acres). With its resources coupled with funds from international bodies, the country rehabilitates wetlands spoiled by the impact of climate change and eases the future effect of the climate crisis on these vital areas.

Climate change, which affects temperatures and changes precipitation patterns, has given a severe blow to Türkiye’s basins, important resources of water for the water-stressed country. Figures by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry reveal that water levels in 20 out of 25 main basins decreased, while five others saw a rise in levels between 2013 and 2022.

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About İsmail Uğural

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