Minister rules out using artificial rain bombs against drought, says rain prayer ‘cheaper’
Water levels in the Alibeyköy Dam on Istanbul's European side have dropped to just 21 percent of total capacity. CİHAN photoAs Western Turkey and Central Anatolia experience one of the driest winters in recent years, Waterworks Minister Veysel Eroğlu has dismissed resorting to drastic methods such as artificial rain bombs, suggesting that prayers for rain are a more affordable option.
“We are not considering using artificial rain bombs because this does not have a significant yield,” Eroğlu said Feb. 19, noting that the technique was tested in Istanbul at the beginning of the 1990s under former Mayor Nurettin Sözen, the predecessor to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
“In the end, it was us who paid the bill for the rain bombs that were been unsuccessful. So this is not an option. But we can still go for rain prayers, at least that does not have any cost,” he added.
Eroğlu's statements came as the water levels in Istanbul’s reservoirs continued to drop, at danger of dropping below 30 percent overall, the lowest level in 10 years, according to data from the Istanbul Waterworks Authority (İSKİ).
Data show that water levels in Istanbul have mostly stayed above 50 percent, except for a drop in 2009 to 30 percent. The levels registered in 2010 (97.19 percent of total capacity), 2011 (90.78), 2012 (84.39) and 2013 (82.66) gave no hint of the recent sudden drop.
Experts have been warning that the lack of rain and snowfall in January and February could cause a significant water shortage in the summer if precautionary measures are not immediately implemented. They also say levels might only rise to 40-45 percent of total capacity, even if the expected rains fall in the coming weeks.