Turkey’s biggest basin struggles with drought
The Konya Closed Basin, once known as Turkey’s “grain warehouse,” is fighting drought due to improper irrigation activities and uncontrolled agriculture.
The annual consumption of water in the basin was 4.5 billion cubic meters, while annual consumption reached 6.5 billion cubic meters.
Speaking about the condition of the basin and the efficient use of water in the region, Nevzat Özer from the TEMA Foundation, Turkey’s largest and leading environmental NGO, said that society is always in need of water, and therefore civilizations are developing in the water basins.
Stressing that ecology collapses and societies are dispersed in cases where soil and water are used incorrectly, Özer said that the lands and forests lost in the country and the wetlands that were dried are tiring Anatolia.
Recalling that there are 25 river basins in Turkey, Özer stated that there are many problems in these regions from pollution to the use of wrong water in agriculture, water competition of the sectors to the mismanagement of water.
Stating that there have been serious reductions in underground water reserves in the past period, Özer underlined that there are decreases of up to 1.5 meters annually in underground water reserves, which are the right of not only today but also future generations.
He said that the Konya Basin, which has the lowest rainfall and considered the riskiest in terms of climate, is one of the basins where the groundwater level decreases.
“The watershed constitutes 7 percent of our country with an area of 5.5 million hectares, and has 17 percent of our underground water potential. However, it is observed that the basin has 2 billion cubic meters of water deficit every year,” he noted.
Pointing out that there are large increases in the cultivation areas of crops such as clover, sugar beet, and corn, which require 800-1200 millimeters of water in the basin where 300 millimeters of precipitation have fallen, Özer stated that the mistakes ranging from product selection to agricultural production techniques have increased the pressure on underground water resources.
Emphasizing that there is a shortage of drinking and potable water in the basin covering seven provinces in total, Özer described the landslides and sinkhole formation due to the decrease in groundwater levels as worrisome.
Özer called for urgent measures to reduce water demand in the region.
Meanwhile, Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said that groundwater in the basin was taken to close monitoring.
“Water level is monitored instantly with sensors placed in 122 wells in Konya Closed Basin. Thanks to this system, we aim to reveal the relationship between groundwater level changes and water withdrawals in the basin,” he said on March 23 in a written statement.
“We aim to investigate the water relations of the sub-basins in the basin with each other and to determine their quantities, and to determine the sustainability of the use of groundwater in the light of the data obtained,” he added.