Turkey’s two key potable water sources suffer drought

Lake Sapanca, which provides potable water to Kocaeli and Sakarya, has reached a critically low level. The water level in the lake is two meters and 10 centimeters lower than the usual level. Sakarya Waterworks Authority (SASKİ) General Manager Rustem Keles said this is the first time such a critical level has been reached. He said Sakarya and Kocaeli should rapidly find alternative sources of drinking water.

Normally, the amount of water that feeds the lake is 120 million cubic meters annually. This year, rainfall in the area was half the amount of the previous year and only 5 million cubic meters of water poured into the lake. Lake Sapanca is now at risk of drying up. Demands from a higher population combined with using water from the lake also for industrial activities have brought the lake to a critical point.

“The state of affairs in the lake is alarming,” Keles said, adding that Lake Sapanca is fed only by surface water. He said if May brings rains, the situation might improve a little, but noted that the lake cannot take another year of drought. Industrial water extraction from the lake should be stopped immediately, he said.

Alarm bells for Sakarya

Meanwhile, a recent study has found that the Sakarya River, an alternative water supply for Istanbul, has shown serious signs of organic and chemical pollution. Experts have spotted algae that are indicators of water pollution. The 824-kilometer-long river, whose source is in Eskisehir, meets the Black Sea in Karasu, a town in Sakarya province.

A one-year-long study carried out by a student from the department of water products at Ataturk University spotted 150 phytoplankton species, some of which are higher in concentration, indicating pollution.

Yesilırmak also suffers critical low water level

Another potable water supply, Yesilırmak River is at a critically low water level, which is causing fish to come to the surface. In particular, where the river flows near Amasya, it is very low because of the lack of rain over winter.

The lack of rain and the increasing warm weather have caused water levels to recede in the area, sparking fears of a drought in summer.

Alarmed at seeing the fish that have surfaced on the Yesilırmak River, people have began to keep a close watch on what is going on near the Hukumet Bridge. Also, a number of small islands have emerged as a result of the decreasing water levels.

Amasya Waterworks Authority (AASKİ) official Erhan Bolatcı shared his concerns about the low water level, noting that the current level of water is the lowest in recent years.