Drought and Pollution Torment Turkey’s Lakes

Lake Tuz
Amid a two-year-long drought, water bodies in western Turkey are also suffering from severe pollution.

Raw sewage and industrial waste are choking Lake Ulubat in the northwestern part of the country, according to professor Feza Karaer from Uluda? University, Today’s Zaman reported last week.

Karaer, an associate professor at the university’s department of environmental engineering, told the Anatolia news agency that Lake Ulubat’s water is under threat of pollution that has already decreased the number of fish species in the lake and might also affect bird life in the area.

The Ulubat basin, situated in the heavily industrialized Marmara province of Bursa, is considered a major wetland in Turkey. One of the breeding areas for the endangered Pygmy Cormorant, its shallow waters also host an extensive white water-lily population. Though the lake is included in the Ramsar Convention, which protects wetlands of international significance, it has changed much since Turkey first signed the Convention in 1994.

“The current size of the lake is not the same as it was in the 1980s and 1990s,” Karaer said. “There has been a considerable amount of shrinkage in recent years.”

Lake Ulubat is not the only lake in Turkey that is losing water. According to a water report released by the European Environment Agency in March 2009, Lake Tuz in the arid Konya basin of central Turkey has now dried up completely. Lake Tuz –- the second largest lake in the country -– has become the most recent victim of the country’s chronic drought and agriculture extraction. The above image of Lake Tuz was taken in the summer of 2007.

Once home to thousands of flamingoes, Lake Tuz is now transforming into a salt basin. Numerous smaller lakes and wetlands in the Konya region have also ran dry in recent years, as groundwater sinks to increasingly lower levels.

Read more here and here.

Sources: Today’s Zaman, European Environment Agency

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