Türkiye is drying up! Groundwater raises alarm


Lerato Khumalo

Drought problem due to global climate change negatively affects underground reserves. It is estimated that there are more than 369 thousand certified wells throughout Turkey, including 38 thousand for drinking and utility purposes, 17 thousand for industrial purposes and 313 thousand for irrigation purposes, while the groundwater reserve is estimated to be 23 billion cubic meters. However, the increasing use of groundwater due to the climate crisis and drought problems experienced in the last 8 years is worrying. In the latest special report published by the Water Policy Association, it was underlined that groundwater levels are rapidly decreasing and their quality is deteriorating.


The report states that 25 percent of the water used for irrigation and 54 percent of the drinking, utility and industrial water are drawn from groundwater, and “An average of 45 percent of the drinking and utility water in our metropolitan cities is drawn from groundwater. 45.6 percent of the total 6.7 billion cubic meters of water drawn by municipalities is drawn from groundwater as wells and spring water. In six of the water basins in our country; Groundwater allocation amounts in the Meriç-Ergene, Akarçay, Büyük Menderes, Konya Closed, Eastern Mediterranean and Asi Basins have exceeded or are about to exceed safe reserve and recharge amounts. “Emergency measures must be taken in these regions” warnings were listed.

It is noted that the total area of ​​land irrigated with groundwater has reached 1.6 million hectares.


The report also draws attention to the fact that falling water levels lead to further pollution and deterioration of water quality, and states, “These processes require integrated consideration of water management and protection strategies. Sustainable management practices and effective control mechanisms should be established to both protect water levels and improve water quality.”

Former Deputy Head of Department of State Hydraulic Works (DSİ) and Head of Water Policies Association Dursun Yıldız drew attention to the fact that underground water resources are decreasing day by day and said, “Our underground water is at red alert level in 6 basins. Our underground water is under great threat. The number of officially documented wells has exceeded 300 thousand. We know that there are more illegal wells than this number. The total area irrigated with underground water has reached 1.6 million hectares. “Unfortunately, as a result of the groundwater observation studies carried out by DSI and the General Directorate of Water Management in 2022 and 2023, it is seen that safe reserve amounts have been exceeded in six of the water basins according to the reserve and allocation values ​​in the basins.” said.

Türkiye is drying up!  Groundwater raises alarm - Picture: 2
The risk of drought in Thrace, Aegean, Konya and the Euphrates Basin is underlined.


“More detailed studies should be conducted to determine the safe reserves of our underground waters,” said Yıldız, and made the following warnings and suggestions: “The usage amounts of underground water allocations should be constantly monitored. Low or excessive withdrawals should be detected in the allocation and the use of reserves should be planned dynamically. “When it is determined that the decrease in the groundwater level is continuous and below the critical level through instant measurements in a basin, water allocation should be stopped, controls should be increased, illegal wells should be closed, and legal measures should be fully implemented.”

“Moreover, it is not enough to simply close the basins where the effects of climate change are increasing and the groundwater level is continuously decreasing. At the same time, illegal and excessive withdrawals in these basins should be controlled more strictly, illegal wells should be closed and measures should be taken to feed the groundwater. Protection and feeding zones should be established in these basins.”