The lack of rain, combined with policies that do not care about the environment, including the recent creation of a new airport, is causing the Turkish economic capital to run out of water. And the future prospects are bad.
Drought looms over Istanbul, which has only forty days of water reserves. While the metropolis of 16 million inhabitants faces an exceptional drought, Ekrem Imamoglu, the mayor elected by the opposition in June 2019, called on the inhabitants to show good citizenship, as the online newspaper reports Newspaper Wall :
Istanbulites should be careful with their water consumption and use water sparingly. Due to the health situation, many families now spend a lot of time at home. We must not leave the tap on without a good reason.”
The lack of rain, with rainfall much lower than usual, has dried up the dams, which constitute the city’s water reserves and which are now filled to less than 20% of their capacity, writes the daily Habertürk.
The fears do not only relate to the quantity of water available but also to its quality: “When the level of available water drops sharply, water quality is also affected, since dirt is usually found at the bottom. […]. In the event of a serious crisis, it is always possible to divert part of the water from the Sakarya River, but it is poor quality water..”
The Turkish economic capital is suffering from the consequences of global warming but also from a sharp increase in its population and from a policy which has given priority to rapid economic development over environmental concerns.
The construction of Istanbul’s third airport, the largest in the world, which opened in October 2018, but where work is still ongoing, has damaged northern Istanbul by cutting down 2.5 million trees and destroying d ‘important watersheds.
In addition, President Erdogan’s pharaonic project of splitting the Bosphorus Strait, with the creation of an artificial canal crossing the city and joining the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea, risks worsening an already precarious situation. Lakes and groundwater would be destroyed, and many purification and water treatment plants in the area would have to be moved, warns Raif Mermutlu, the head of the municipal water management company, in the columns of the opposition daily spokesman.
Heavy rains forecast by meteorologists for February and March could push back the danger of a severe water shortage this year, but the risk would only be pushed back.