Drought would not come to Turkey before the Istanbul dams were empty!
There used to be a restaurant saying: “Winter doesn’t come to Turkey before it snows in Istanbul.” This understanding, which criticizes the release of news in Anatolia because the headquarters of major publications is in Istanbul, needs to change a little today.
Due to the known climate change and extreme heat island, less snow falls in Istanbul now. But now we have a problem called drought and water crisis. Although a large part of the tree structure has been kept below the average of many years of precipitation in the last three years, and droughts have been experienced, water problems and droughts occurred when the amount of water stored in Istanbul dams decreased. Despite this, serious droughts were experienced in 2021, especially in the summer parts, especially in the Central Anatolia and Southeastern Anatolia regions, and in a large part of the settlement. In fact, thousands of baby flamingos died due to drought in Salt Lake. In 2022, especially after July, drought in Marmara, Central Anatolia, Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia regions was posing many threats, especially agricultural areas and natural life. Seeds could not be planted because it did not show when it was time to sow in autumn, or it was sown after birth as “dry sowing”.
Due to the delay of autumn precipitation and the fact that December 2022 was the hottest December in the last 70 years, and the January season was above the normal, the second lowest building decline of the Istanbul dams in the last 10 years caused the drought to be on the agenda.
A similar discussion will take place in January 2021, the lowest level of the last 10 years. In fact, at that time, a rainwater collection system was required for new constructions larger than two thousand square meters. Unfortunately, there is no official data on whether this regulation is implemented or not. The drought was forgotten when the dams started to fill up with the snowfall in Istanbul, the future of January 2021, until the water level in the dams of Istanbul decreased again two years later.
The water problem and droughts should not be confused with each other.
If the water problem and drought are to be discussed, first of all, it is necessary to understand that they are different from each other.
The most drought known to the society is the meteorological drought, which means that the precipitation will be lower than the average of many years. However, if the precipitation is above the average, drought can be mentioned. Cultivation of crops as protection from shade during germination, growth and harvest times, and drought crops with stored water spills in soils with continued seasonal spread of some rains.
The first method that comes to mind to combat drought is to be in water dams and to make use of the waters they contain. However, drought that occurs due to insufficient rainfall, not filling the dams or not using sustainable water security is known as hydrological drought.
The fact that the precipitation is at or above seasonal normals does not mean that the water is sufficient. Because if the water is consumed rudely, the existing water may not be enough. Similarly, if wings, streams and lakes are polluted, drinking or irrigation water will not be unlimited.
We will not be a water-rich country
Up to 450 billion m3 of precipitation falls annually on Thursday. However, not all of this water can be used by humans. Because some of it continues back in the atmosphere by evaporation, some of it flows into the seas with rivers, and some of it feeds the waters it contains.
According to the State Hydraulic Works inspections, the data obtained from the registration waters have annual average values of up to 112 billion m3 of water, including 14 billion m3 of water per year. At the beginning of 2022, our per capita usable water amount may reach 1,320 m3.
According to the Water Stress Index, with this value, the device is in the class of countries experiencing water stress. But this should not mislead us. Because 112 billion m3 of usable water is calculated according to the average of many years. In some years, our usable water falls below 100 billion m3 from time to time, as precipitation is up to 20% for protection and increased temperatures with climate change also increase evaporation.
It is not possible to use our usable water amount during the period when the precipitation does not increase. In this case, it is loaded into groundwater. On the other hand, the population density decreases and the amount of water per capita decreases. For example, in the 1980s, we were a very rich country in terms of usable water per capita. In summary, even if the precipitation never changes, only 112 million of our population will fall in a country where there is water shortage in prisons.
While our water availability is decreasing, our water consumption is increasing.
Another issue to consider is the use of water.
Using water usage while the amount of usable water remains the same can lead to dehydration.
The amount of water they receive increases with each passing year. According to the Environmental Indicators Report published by the Ministry of Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change, water consumption, which was 45.5 billion m3 in 2008, increased to 62.2 billion m3 in 2020. The range in 12 years is up to 16.7 billion m3.
While 10.2 billion m3 of the increase in water consumption results in agriculture, it is stated in the report that there are 3.7 billion m3 in thermal power plants, 1.3 billion m3 in industry and 1.4 billion m3 in residential areas.
Identify key issues to tackle drought and water crisis
The first application that comes to mind in the fight against drought and water crisis is the construction of dams or water transfer between basins. But it should not be expected that these are temporary solutions, and even for the living creatures in nature and the villagers whose water is cut off by dams, thirst will not make any sense.
However, what needs to be done should be how to use water more efficiently and how to prevent the rude use of water.
The reasons why the amount of water used in daily irrigation is used up to 850 million m3 annually should be investigated.
One of the most important reasons for this growth is wild irrigation and growing products that are not suitable for the climatic conditions of the region. Due to the fact that the pastures have their nests, the demonstrations in settlement livestock and the production of forage crops grown by irrigation, such as corn, are also increasing.
Another reason is the desire to increase the yield obtained from the unit area with water and fertilizer.
Considering all these, it is possible to say that agricultural policies cannot be determined according to the presence of water.
Similarly, rainwater harvesting studies are lacking in agriculture. Unfortunately, when rain water harvest is mentioned, to understand that it must be accumulated in water ponds or in the storages it accumulates. However, the most important rainwater harvesting is the infiltration of water.
For this, there are many different rainwater harvesting methods such as growing perennial plants on rising terraces in agricultural environments, aeration of soil organic matter, and leaving it exposed by growing cover trees.
Water challenges that city planning approach uses
The urban planning approach, which encourages the mass to gather in big cities, also causes water problems.
The most striking example of population growth causing water problems is Istanbul.
It is not entirely correct to think that the water level in the dams in Istanbul will decrease due to drought.
Annual water consumption in Istanbul, which was 0.62 billion m3 in 2000, reached 1.1 billion m3 in 2022. The most important reason for this increase is the increase in water consumption per capita from 152 liters to 190 liters in the same period, up to 5 million in the Istanbul match in 22 years.
There is also water pollution.
The use of water brings with it water pollution with each passing day.
Unfortunately, a significant part of the water used in homes, agriculture and industry is discharged into the nearest stream, lake or sea without being treated or treated insufficiently.
It is not possible to use dirty water as drinking/irrigation water.
For example, it was planned to transfer water from Sakarya River to Istanbul, but it was not possible to take water because the river was polluted. For this reason, we need to ensure that wastewater is treated and re-supplied.
People also have a responsibility to save water.
It is important to conserve water in homes to combat the water crisis.
However, configuring domestic water devices will also eliminate water consumption, up to increasing the amount of water in the irrigation of the routers, which observe that they only account for 10% of the total water use. At this point, the expectations of water losses reaching 50% in some of our cities can be much more effective than water savings in homes.
In summary, it is not a very correct approach to deal with the protection that our water owner is only with droughts. With the climate regulation, there will be significant reductions in demonstrations in other regions outside the Black Sea Region of the settlement, temperature shows will increase evaporation, the water crisis will deepen with the increase in the administrative population observing that the houses of the demonstrations will change during the year, wrong agriculture and urbanization.
Due to the fact that a significant portion of water is used in agriculture, droughts and inefficient use of water will lead to a decrease in food rates and a rapid decrease in groundwater. For this reason, a holistic water policy should be achieved in all areas from agriculture to industry, from energy to forestry, to use water efficiently, to save water, to prevent water pollution and to reuse wastewater. While doing this, we must remember that living things in nature need water at least as much as humans.
These articles are author’s opinions and may not reflect the editorial policy of Idea Tour.
This article was first published on January 31, 2023.