2019 Water Management

Drying up of Tuz Lake Closed Water Basin

Once being the biggest salt lake of Europe and second biggest lake of Turkey and despite gaining official protection status of Special Environmental Protection Area since 2000, Tuz Lake and its satellite wetlands (Kulu, Terkesan and Bolluk Lakes, Esmekaya Marshes) face the threat of drying up because of the dominant water polices. Irrigated agriculture carried out intensively in Tuz Lake closed basin is based on illegal groundwater wells. Each year well drillings go deeper and cause the reduction of underground water which naturally feeds the basin, uncontrollable desertification and salinisation. Biological features of the protected area (such as semi-wet habitats) high in endemism are changing and the soil in the region becomes arid and salinised. Currently the biggest water course that feeds Tuz Lake is the domestic, industrial and agricultural sewerage system of Konya coming through a channel from hundreds of kilometers. Discharging sewage water directly to Tuz Lake without using any treatment causes pollution in the Salinas which provide 80% of Turkeys salt demand and affects the most important flamingo breeding colonies in Turkey (Artemia salina, the primary food source of the flamingos, being under threat). On the other hand, Esmekaya Marshes which used to be the only freshwater system in the basin are already lost because of a dam construction that started in 1996; and the local economy which was dependent on the wetland has collapsed. The other conflict in the area is a natural gas storage plant which is planned to be constructed in the South part of the Tuz Lake.

Source: Ejatlas