Why should we care about this issue
In Turkey, the effective use of water resources and protection of those resources have become essential as a result of population increase, rapid urbanization and industrialization.
Turkey is not an affluent country in terms of water resources and water resources are not distributed equally over the country. There are 25 river basins but only 4 of them correspond to the 37 per cent of the annual precipitation that means accessibility of water resources can not meet the demands on right time and right location. Turkey can not control its water resources because of the topographical irregularities. Moreover, Turkey is geologically very young and its rivers flow unsteadily. It is not possible to use water before carrying out necessary arrangements because of high mean basin slopes. Turkey should take precautions not to be a problematic country about water.
The quality and the potential of water are critically significant for Turkey. For the accurate management of water resources, water quality and water quantity should be managed simultaneously.
Because of climatic condition in Turkey, the precipitation-flow relationships which change seasonally also display considerable differences from year to year and natural water supply falls to minimum levels in the summer when the demand is maximum. Country’s water resources are very sensitive to drought conditions and drought is seen in every fifteen year period. In addition to irregular regime character, floods threaten natural life and create great hazards. Therefore, the periodic droughts necessitate the construction of dams to regulate water in one year or longer.
The main reasons for the degradation of Turkey’s water quality are; excess use of natural resources on account of rapid industrialization and urbanization, domestic, industrial and agricultural activities.
In Turkey lakes and dams are important for industrial, agricultural and drinking water supply. Domestic-Industrial waste water and fertilizers-pesticides negatively affect the quality of water of the lakes by causing the deterioration of the nitrogen-phosphorus balance in contrast to normal standards. Dam lakes are in a risk of being filled by the sediment transport.
Rivers are important for drinking water supply, irrigation and fishery. The most important pollution factor of Turkey's rivers is the discharge of the domestic, industrial and agricultural wastewater to the rivers. In Turkey, there are still many highly polluted and bad looking rivers. Another reason for the pollution of rivers is erosion. As a result of the soil erosion, phosphorus with solid materials is moved from the agricultural area to the surface waters and this causes eutrophication. Population increase, urbanization, industrial activities, pesticide use and excess use of fertilizers are the other factors that increase river pollution rapidly.
If in the coming years environmental problems and the pollution of surface water increase, the quality and quantity of groundwater will play an important role. The reasons of groundwater pollution are domestic and industrial wastes and pollutants related with agriculture.
The state and impacts
Last year for identifying the hot points and defining the pressures by the catchment protection action plans, priorities were established including the 25 river catchments of Turkey. In this study the measured results for 2006, provided by General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works, were used and with the assistance of those data the water quality map of Turkey was prepared as below Figure 1.
Figure 1: Water Quality of Turkey, 2006
Source: General Directorate of Environmental Management
The measuredresults of heavy metal concentrations in water belonging to 2006 are lower than the measurement results of organic concentration amount in water for the same year.
In various sectors, as 34 billion m3 in irrigation, 7 billion m3 in domestic water supply and 5 billion m3 in industry totally 46 billion m3 of water was consumed in 2008. This sum corresponds to only 41% of the available exploitable potential of 112 billion m3. According to future projections, the share of irrigation use will decrease from 74% in 2008 to 64% by 2030. On the other hand, the domestic and industrial use would increase to 16% and 20% in this period, respectively ( Figure 2).
Figure 2: Water Amount Abstracted by Sectors (milion m3)
Source: General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works
During 2007, drought conditions had a sequence of fifth dry period of the last 37 years. Yearly total precipitation of Turkey is 642 mm per m2, normally. But in 2007 this value decreased to 548 mm. and precipitation was 15% less than the normal. It’s shown “Precipitation of Turkey between 1970 – 2007 as water year totals” in Figure 3.
Figure 3: Precipitation of Turkey between 1970 – 2007 as water year totals
Source: General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works
Figure 4: Aridity assessment of Turkey based on P/PET relation
Source: General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works
Flood is the second biggest hazard in Turkey, which causes huge economic loss after earthquake. According to the records based on annual flood inventory studies, economic loss related to the flood disasters reaches 100 million US$/year and in the last 15 years, about 500,000 ha urban and agricultural areas were affected by floods.
The June-July-August months are the most popular season for tourists, as well it is the dryest season. In that period which 42% of the tourists come to Turkey, water use per person increase by 3-4 times.
In the city centers that could get water by 80% of population, 13% of the samples were not up to the standards while in the city centers that could get water by 60% of population, only 5% of the samples were not up to the standards. The number of municipalities that served with drinking and using water network are tend to increase in recent years. The municipality number and the rate of the population served with networks by total population for 2001 and 2006 years are 3092-95% and 3167-98%, respectively.
The key drivers and pressures
The most important pollution factor of Turkey's rivers is discharging of domestic, industrial and agricultural wastewater to the rivers. Unfortunately, there are still many highly polluted rivers in Turkey. Another reason for the pollution of rivers in Turkey is erosion. As a result of soil erosion, phosphorus with solid materials is carried away from the agricultural area to the surface waters which cause eutrophication. Population increase, urbanization, industrial activities, pesticide use and excess use of fertilizers are other factors that rapidly increase river pollution.
Figure 5: Wastewater Treatment Status according to Wastewater Amount
Source: Wastewater Treatment Action Plan for 2008-2012
Figure 6: Rates of Wastewater Treated by Treatment Plants
Source: Turkish Statistical Institute
The 2020 outlook
Last year for identifying the hot points and defining the pressures by the catchment protection action plans, priorities were established including the 25 river catchments of Turkey. In this study the measurement results for 2006, provided by General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works, were used and the water quality map of Turkey was arranged with the assistance of those data. Under the present circumstances, Akarcay Catchment, Van Lake Catchment, Meric-Ergene Catchment and Gediz Catchment Protection Action Plans have been prepared while Sakarya Catchment and the other 11 Catchment Protection Action Plans are prepared. Moreover, protection action plan studies for the rest 9 catchments will start. In the future, 1.418 more hydroelectric power plants will be constructed in order to make use of additional 22.700 MW installed capacity. As a result of these works, a total of 1.738 hydroelectric power plants with 45.000 MW will tame rivers to harness the economically viable hydropower of Turkey.
There has been a 3,5 year-term EU aided project about implementation of 3 EU water directives which are WFD, Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive and Dangerous Substances Directive in Turkey. The main results of the project are that analysing the laws, directives, foundations and preparing application plans in the light of those EU directives. There have been a lot of training courses and study visits during the project. In addition, 14 directives related to water quality have been harmonized and there is a harmonisation study for the others. The draft of strategy document and the negotiation position paper on water quality have been prepared. A capacity improvement project on water quality monitoring system will be performed.
Taking into consideration the population of 2007 which is 70,6 million, the quantity of water per capita per year is 1,586 m3. Countries regarded as being rich in water resources have 8-10 thousand m3 water per capita per year. The available water per capita per year in Turkey is about 1/5 of the water-rich countries. It is estimated by the experts that, in 2023, the amount of available water will likely to be less than 1000 m3/capita/year.
As shown in Figure 7, only 41% of total exploitable water potential of the country has been consumed until now. It is planned that remaining part would be developed by 2023 which is the 100th Anniversary of Turkish Republic.
Figure 7: Rates of Wastewater Treated by Treatment Plants
Source: Turkey Water Report 2009, SHW
Existing and planned responses
“Water Pollution Control Regulation” has provided extensive arrangements on water quality management. There are two basic approaches about “Water Pollution Control Regulation”. First approach is that present quality of water resources should be protected and the second one is that present quality of water resources should be improved. In this context, some regulations have been implemented related to protection areas around drinking water reservoirs and protection of agricultural areas, some restrictions on discharging of domestic and industrial wastewater have been imposed.
Surface water, lakes, ponds and dam reservoirs in Turkey are classified according to the “Classification of Continental Surface Water” in part “Water Pollution Control Regulation”.
According to the “Receiving Environment Standards of Lakes” part in “Water Pollution Control Regulation” some restrictions on the nitrogen and phosphorus amount in the lakes, ponds and dam reservoirs have been imposed against eutrophication.
The regulation became effective in order to bring out the technical and legal principles required for the determination of Water Pollution Control Principles with the purpose of actualizing utilization of the country’s water resources potential protection, ensuring maximum optimized use and prevention of water pollution in harmony with the economic and social development objectives.
It also provides for water quality planning. This Regulation aims at both conserving the quality of water resources in ecosystems and protecting and enhancing water quality to meet national requirements. It prescribes protection zones and land use strategies with regard to reservoirs and lakes used for drinking water. Principles for discharging effluent to ground and surface waters, and for treating waste water, are also included in the regulation.
Last decade's flooding events with their costly results have brought Turkey to a new view-point to reduce and control the susceptibility to the flood damages, namely the "Hazard Mitigation Approach". To prevent and decrease the damages of floods, 4566 environment and flood control structures have been built and by this way 1.000.000 ha area has been protected. Between 2001-2003 years, as a flood forecasting and early warning system, Turkey Emergency Flood and Earthquake Relief (TEFER) Project has been effectuated to remove the damages of 1998 flood in Western Black Sea Region.
In Turkey, parallel to dam construction either for prevention of the floods or for meeting demands, basin water management systems comprising of other activities are being developed for providing balance between resource and demand. As in other countries in the world, irrigation has a great share in water consumption. To minimize water loss through distribution networks, to save water during the operation and to increase irrigation efficiency, modern irrigation methods such as, sprinkler or drip irrigation are mostly preferred in irrigation projects. Since water resources development has significance for country’s growth, various projects have been developed in agriculture, energy, environment and the other sectors in Turkey so far. Beside domestic and industrial water supply, the projects developed in service sector comprise meeting of the tourism water requirements. To prevent the negative effects of tourism on groundwater and service sector, impervious load-bearing walls and transmission lines have been builted.
- *The Booklet of Environmental Indicators-2008, General Directorate of EIA and Planning, Ministry of Environment and Forestry
- *General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works, Ministry of Environment and Forestry
- *General Directorate of Environmental Management, Ministry of Environment and Forestry
- *Wastewater Treatment Action Plan for 2008-2012, General Directorate of Environmental Management, Ministry of Environment and Forestry
- *Turkish Statistical Institute
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
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