Turkish Town Of 17 million To Run Out Of Water in 45 Days

Turkish City’s are set to run out of water in just 45 due to a severe drought.


A drone image of Alibeyköy Dam, an important water resource for Istanbul

Noah MacAulay, Writer

               In 2020 Turkey experienced and is still going through its worst drought in 10 years which has lead to dams across the country drying up. The Largest Turkish Town, Istanbul, holding 17 million people only has 45* Days of water left in its Dams and the Turkish Capital only has 110*. This lack of water is leading to crops drying up across the country, this is especially bad given the fact that farming is the main Turkish source of income and Turkey is the seventh-largest agriculture producer.

*This information was last updated on 1/13/2021

               Turkey has been getting worse and worse droughts lately and it is mainly due to the increase of industrialization, urban development and population we have seen since the 1980s. Turkey has taken a different approach to most water strained countries as instead of keeping demand to a sustainable level they have built more dams, Dr. Akgün İlhan, an Istanbul Policy Center water management expert said ‘Turkey has built hundreds of dams in the last two decades’. But Dams can only do so much and the growing demand for more water is outracing the dam production leading to the scenario the country is currently in. Turkey has had a focus on economic growth and environmental sustainability has taken a back seat shown by Turkey taking in 11.4 million tons of waste in 2019 (22,800,000,000 pounds). This sudden waste increase is mostly due to China stopping most importing in 2018 leading to 45% of plastic waste (global) having no place to go and Turkey quickly turned into the new ‘dumping ground’ for Europe greatly hurting their local environment contributing to their drought issues.

               Turkeys’ main income source has been agriculture and they are the seventh-highest biggest agriculture producer and they hoped to get into the top five in the next 2 years. This year however has lead to many crops dying as farmers across the Konya plain and Edirne Province, very high wheat producing areas are warning about likely crop failure (Definition of crop failure “a failure of crops to yield sufficient food, etc, to maintain a community or to provide a surplus to sell”) This could seriously affect income across the country and the farmers could likely miss the harvesting season. While some rain (80 millimetres) occurred in Konya during July-December in 2019, 2020 saw 30 millimetres during that same period. Light rain occurred for 2 days in December which caused cultivated crops to begin to grow from their seeds only to be in a delicate state for a longer period of no rainfall. Chairman of the Karatay Chamber of Agriculture Rıfat Kavuneker, said Konya farmers would lose hope in agriculture if sufficient rainfall was not received. Istanbul officials are attempting to take action telling residents possible water-saving methods now that the City Dam has gone down to 19.62 percent of its total capacity.

               This situation is dire and despite Estimates showing rainy and or cold weather coming after mid-January İhsan Çiçek, an academic from Ankara University and Demirören News Agency (DHA) employee, stated ‘ But this will not be at a level that will cure our problem and increase the water level that has fallen below 20 percent of the dams.’ As the regular temperature in Turkey continues to rise as a result of urbanization it does not look like an obvious solution or plan of action will present itself in time but in the words of Dr. Akgün İlhan, a water management expert at the Istanbul Policy Center. “Turkey does have the economic and technological means to fix its damaged water cycle, the missing element is the political will to take these steps.”

Sources: The Guardian (also photo credit)Hurriyet News