Turkey’s major cities to ‘face no immediate water shortage’
Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli has said that Turkey’s biggest cities, the capital Ankara, Istanbul, and the Aegean province of Izmir, will face no water shortage problems for a few months as they have enough water stored to meet the needs of the cities.
“As of today, Ankara has enough water for four and a half months and Istanbul for seven and a half months while [the Aegean province of] İzmir’s reservoirs are 76 percent full,” Pakdemirli told the state-run Anadolu Agency on March 31.
“For Ankara, we also have the Gerede tunnel, which will carry 360 million cubic meters of water to the city with an annual need of 400 million cubic meters,” he added.
According to the minister, the capacity rate in dams of Ankara is now 12 percent, while the rate in Istanbul is 72 percent as of March 31, some 7 percent more than the same day of the last year.
“Istanbul and İzmir are in better shape than last year, with Ankara following them. Despite the late snowfall, I don’t think Ankara will have any problem,” Pakdemirli said.
Noting that his ministry is working with the local authorities of the metropolises, he said, “When a city comes under a water shortage, its mayor comes to us. In critical times, the mayor of Istanbul visited us, and we discussed the situation and made calculations to solve the problem.”
The minister also remarked on the latest capacity rates in dams after the long precipitation that occurred in February and March.
According to the minister, the capacity rate in dam reservoirs across the country for drinkable water was 58 percent on March 31, 2020 and this year, on the same day, it is 52 percent.
Stating that the capacity rate of the irrigation dams across the country was 51 percent on March 31, 2020, the minister said that now the rate is 43 percent.
Pakdemirli’s remarks came at a time when the country has launched its first Water Council and is working on a new water management law.
Turkey is preparing a new law for the sake of better water management, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on March 29, at the launch of a new Water Council and mass opening ceremony for 363 facilities in Ankara.
“We are preparing a water law in parliament to reach our goals faster and prevent conflicts of authority in water management,” Erdoğan said, adding that the new council would help shape the water law.
Stressing that Turkey needs to renew agricultural irrigation systems, he said the country should use its existing resources more efficiently by encouraging water conservation.
Underlining that Turkey is a water-stressed country, Erdoğan said Turkey has to share its limited water resources with neighboring Iraq and Syria.
“We have always shown the necessary sensitivity to meeting the water needs of our neighbors. We never turned the water issue into a threat or a bargaining tool in our bilateral ties. We will maintain this same fair attitude going forward,” he added.
Erdoğan said a total of 363 facilities built by the State Waterworks have been put into service for the public.
A total of 146.5 million cubic meters of water is stored and 12.3 million cubic meters of drinking water comes annually thanks to these facilities, Erdoğan said.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and a drought, last year Turkey broke a national record for agricultural output, he added.
This year, the government will provide a total of 24 billion liras in agricultural support to producers, he said.
Separately, last week, mayors of some 22 provinces, who are main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) members, gathered and signed a manifest about the use of water.
The CHP mayors, leading the provinces where 65 percent of the total population lives, demanded a water management model where participants from all sides can have a word to say.
“The water management must be conducted with the participation of users, agriculture organizations, industrialists and environmentalists,” according to a statement published on March 23, World Water Day.