Cause of the stench of Istanbul's water finally discovered
ISTANBULTurkish authorities have announced that the smell recently coming from Istanbul’s water network is caused by hot weather and seaweed, while some experts have claimed the change in the quality of water is carcinogenic.
The Istanbul Water and Sewerage Administration, or İSKİ, released a written statement on July 23 to address public questions asking why Istanbul's tap water, which has been deemed “drinkable” by the authorities, had recently started to smell.
“The change in the aesthetic quality of the water [smell], caused by the above-average temperatures, the decrease in the water levels of lakes and the process of seaweed creation, does not bring about any negative consequences for its usage,” the statement said.
However, Turkey's Chamber of Environmental Engineers (TMMOB), rejected İSKİ’s conclusion that the change in the quality of water is harmless. According to TMMOB, the smell is due to substances that cannot be cleaned by current practices. Once these substances mix with chlorine, they become carcinogenic in the form of THM (Trihalomethane), and the “active carbon” that can clean these substances was only imported days after Istanbul faced the latest problem, potentially risking lives, TMMOB added.
“There is clearly a lack of foresight,” TMMOB chair Baran Bozoğlu said, referring to İSKİ’s response. "If the construction in Istanbul’s last remaining wooded areas in the north, like the third Bosphorus bridge project, continues, the megapolis will be left without its own water, becoming dependent on the industrialized Sakarya province reservoirs in the east, where the water is dirty."
Istanbul’s own dams are almost empty due to the ongoing drought. With water levels declining below 20 percent in July, many people have been complaining about the bad smell.
“The transfer of water from Sakarya, which started two weeks ago, allowed for the contamination of ‘geosmin’ and MIB. This was especially felt in districts around the Ömerli dam. The bidding for 200-tons of active carbon has just been completed and due to its lack in the inventory of İSKİ, active carbon was not used properly and complaints have increased,” the TMMOB statement added.
TMMOB said it sent the sent samples of water abroad for a THM analysis because many experts do not trust İSKİ’s conclusion that the Istanbul water is usable. If the analysis confirms the suspicions, TMMOB said it would file a complaint against İSKİ.