Shafaq News/ Major cities across Turkey face running out of water in the next few months, with warnings Istanbul has less than 45 days of water left.
The Guardian said according to Turkey’s chamber of chemical engineers Poor rainfall has led to the country’s most severe drought in a decade and left the megacity of 17 million people with critically low levels of water.
İzmir and Bursa, Turkey’s next two biggest cities, are also struggling, with dams that are about 36% and 24% full respectively, and farmers in wheat-producing areas such as the Konya plain and Edirne province on the border with Greece and Bulgaria are warning of crop failure.
The acute lack of rainfall in the second half of 2020 – approaching 50% year on year for November – led the religious affairs directorate to instruct imams and their congregations to pray for rain last month. The Guardian said.
“Instead of focusing on measures to keep water demand under control, Turkey insists on expanding its water supply through building more dams … Turkey has built hundreds of dams in the last two decades,” the Newspaper quoted Dr Akgün İlhan, a water management expert at the Istanbul Policy Center as saying.
“The warning signs have been there for decades but not much has been done in practice.”
Turkey has long prioritized economic growth over environmental concerns and remains the only G20 country apart from the US yet to ratify the 2015 Paris agreement.
“Everybody knows that water basins must be preserved, especially for these drought episodes which are becoming more severe and long term,” said Dr Ümit Şahin, who teaches global climate change and environmental politics at Istanbul’s Sabancı University.
“Yet in Istanbul, for instance, the most vital water basins, the last forests and agricultural land, [have been opened] to urban development projects … the new airport, the new Bosphorus bridge, its connection roads and highways, and the Istanbul canal project. These policies cannot solve Turkey’s drought problem.”
In İzmir, local authorities are preparing against water shortages by digging 103 new boreholes, recycling wastewater and minimizing loss and leakage by repairing ageing pipes, according to the city’s mayor, Tunç Soyer.
The Guardian concluded that, Turkey’s cities need lots of rain, immediately, to avoid having to ration water in the next few months – and even sustained rainfall for the rest of the winter might not be enough for farming communities to rescue this year’s crops.