The problem of water scarcity in Istanbul has diminished slightly with dam supplies recently surpassing 32%, data from the Istanbul Water and Sewerage Administration (ISKI) showed Sunday.
Demirören News Agency (DHA) said in a report that previously dry areas in Ömerli Dam have started to fill up with water, according to recent aerial photographs of the dam.
Due to drought, water levels in Istanbul dams dropped to just over 19% two weeks ago, while recent rainfall and melting snow helped push the levels back to over 32%, indicating an increase of 13.2%. The city’s Istrancalar Dam registered the greatest increase, surpassing 55.1% in supply, while Sazlıdere Dam saw the lowest supply figure with 12.7%.
Meanwhile, Istanbul is expecting more snow next week, which is set to contribute to water levels even more.
Dams and ponds catering to the water needs of more than 15 million people in the city have a capacity of accumulating 868.6 million cubic meters (30.67 million cubic feet) of water, and currently, the accumulated water is somewhere around 166 million cubic meters. It is at a dangerous level for a city where an average of 2.8 million cubic meters of water is consumed daily in winter.
Water scarcity forces the transmission of water from far-flung sources. In 2020, the city’s water supplies largely relied on Yeşilçay and Melen, two rivers east of Istanbul. Though authorities have assuaged concerns for any disruption to the water grid, data from past years indicates an imminent crisis. On Jan. 4, 2020, for instance, the water level in the dams was at 39.02% and on the same date in 2019, it was 83.25%.
The absence of precipitation that triggers water woes for Istanbul is mainly blamed on climate change that hit inland bodies of water across the country last year. But an expert said that climate change only worsens the existing problem: the higher demand for water associated with a rising population.
Istanbul, a financial and commercial hub that has been a center of attraction for millions throughout its history, has a perpetual upward trend in population increase.
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoğlu also said last month the city is not currently facing a water shortage problem but also warned about the coming months. “The risk is here. We have to be careful and save water,” he told reporters at a news conference on Dec. 24. “Istanbul went through a dry 2019 and 2020. In terms of precipitation, we have seen less rainfall and snowfall compared with previous years. We are facing a drought risk in 2021, and we are still four years away from the Melen Project,” he said, referring to a large-scale dam project to address the water needs of the city via a water pipeline from the eponymous river.
“We are still able to bring water from Melen and other resources and are discussing whether to open new water wells. The European side of the city is under greater risk, but water transmission (from…
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