I wish we considered our own water first

I wish we considered our own water first

The latest discussion topic regarding the supremacy of the state of Turkey is we are supplying water to the Native Americans in Oregon. As a matter of fact, the Republic of Turkey is not building a water supply network in the United States, or anything. However, it is correct that we are contributing: the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) has donated $200,000 for a large water tank to be built at Warm Springs, Oregon.

This figure constitutes half of the cost of the water tower. 

What on earth? The Turkey that dries its lakes and rivers and commercializes its water, why and how does it extend a helping hand to the Native Americans? 

Jeff Manning from the daily Oregonian could not hide his astonishment: “Turkey emerges as an unlikely benefactor.” He wrote one would think the country already had plenty on its plate, what with war-torn Syria on its southern border and the cultural clash between Turkey’s pro-Western democracy and conservative Islam.

Manning has associated the aid with the ethnic connection Turks believe to have with American Indians: “It turns out the Turks feel an affinity of shared heritage with Native Americans.” 

The people of Warm Springs are surprised. “I didn’t know any of this until five days ago,” said Orvie Danzuka, a member of the Warm Springs Tribal Council.

Indeed it is a good gesture that the Republic of Turkey has contributed financially to the Warm Springs Tribes. Well, but, how correct is it to regard giving small aid as “We have supplied water to Native Americans” and make a political matter out of it? 

The cover story of National Geographic Turkey’s August issue was “Water.” Some facts from the detailed file that have examined Turkey’s situation of water resources: 

- In the last 20 years, the amount of dried up resources of fresh water (lakes) is twice the size of the Marmara Sea (2 million cube meters). 

- In the past 10 years, with nearly 2,000 hydroelectric power plants (HES) projects, there is not a single spring that is left not sold to the private sector. 

- The mountains that are the sources of fresh water have been sold to mine companies. (Number of approved mine licenses is over 40,000.) 

- Besides, the quality of the drinking water is problematic. In Ankara and Kütahya, cyanide water flew from the taps. 

As the situation is such, before we boast that we have supplied water to Native Americans, shall we talk about our own water policy and what we will drink tomorrow? 

- While talking about water, the water level in the dams in Istanbul is at an alarming stage. According to İSKİ data, this year’s dam reservoir capacity has gone down 6.5 percent compared to last year. 

- The effect of the dry autumn is huge. However, the real question is this: How will Turkey’s water need be met where it is predicted that draughts will become more serious in the coming years with the effect of climate change? 

Mehveş Evin is a columnist for the daily Milliyet in which this piece was published on Nov. 20. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.