Water and its Role in the Development of Turkey

It is obvious that water is a basic requirement for all life on earth, vital for many aspects of economic and social development and is a component of the global environment. It is also obvious that water is becoming a very crucial element parallel to the developments and increase in population since it is finite in quantity and vulnerable to all kinds of pollution. The scarcity of water and deterioration in its quality is affecting many countries, especially in some regions of the world.

Despite phenomenal advances in water resources management, humanity’s dependence on water is increasing. As a result of population growth water uses increase while the supply remains relatively constant. And water resources are often far from growing centers of demand. The augmentation of the water supply of regions which suffer from water scarcity could be achieved by sea-water desalinization, improvement of the quality of brackish water if available, reuse of waste water or water importation.

In every economic and social aspect of Turkey, water represents significant factor in development, stability and even national security. The paper aims to discuss the role of water in the development of Turkey and to reveal the strategic importance of adequate water management as guarantee for national security and stability. Turkey’s Water Resources: Dependence and Need for Management Average annual precipitation in Turkey is 642 mm of which approximately 37% or 186 BCM, returns to rivers as surface water.

The surface runoff is unevenly distributed in time and space consistent with precipitation. Almost 30% of the total surface water is located in the Dicle-Firat/Tigris-Euphrates basin, 25% in Akdeniz/Mediterranean Sea basin and 23% in Karadeniz/Black Sea basin (Waterbury, 1994). The stream flows vary markedly throughout the year and fluctuate dramatically from year to year. Seasonal flow variability is greater than annual variability. Surface and groundwater resources are limited along the Aegean Sea coastline, and in the Trakya/Thrace and Central Anatolia regions.

These areas are highly urbanized and industrialized, and have large areas suitable for irrigated agriculture. They have 10. 5% of Turkey’s total water resources while covering 19. 3% of the whole area (Tomanbay, 2000). Thus, water storage to regulate river flows and water transfers to growing demand centers are a technical obligation. The available fresh water resources per capita, including transboundary watercourses, stood at about 3000 m3/year in 1999. This figure is estimated to drop to 2700 m3/year by the year 2007.

Per capita fresh water availability varied between 750 m3/year and 1300 m3/year in 1999 in the above-mentioned areas (Waterbury, 1994). That means that, together with the application of appropriate water resources management techniques, water transfer to those areas will have to be considered in the future. Along the Mediterranean Sea coast, Ceyhan, Seyhan, Goprugay, Manavgat, Aksu and Esen are the main rivers. The annual total capacity of these rivers is about 30 BCM.

Since the mountains are parallel to the coast, the irrigable land within economic reach is limited and is mainly found at the estuaries. In that sense, there is surplus water in these rivers at present. While it is possible to supply a certain amount of water from the base flow of the rivers, reservoirs are required to supply more water. About 6 BCM/yr (20% of capacity) of water including the Peace Pipeline Project (capacity 2 BCM/yr) may be exported (Tomanbay, 2000).

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