Drought poses significant threat to Lake Van Basin

Drought poses significant threat to Lake Van Basin
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Lake Van, Turkey's largest lake, along with the surrounding lakes and streams, is experiencing alarming drying trends due to severe drought conditions in recent years.

By Senol Bali

Lake Van, which saw many challenges in recent years, is now facing a serious problem - drought. Akgol, Degirmi and Kesis lakes, which are located in the basin of the main lake and typically receive rainfall in the first half of the year, arerunningthe risk of drying up and disappearing in the second half of the year.

IMPACT OF DROUGHT ON RESERVOIRS

Many streams and rivers that contribute to Lake Van's water supply have dried up completely or experienced significant water losses. The situation is no different for the dams in the basin. Zernek, Sarımemed, Morgedik and numerous other dams have been severely affected by the drought, resulting in a significant drop in water levels.

TUZ LAKE, AKGOL AND SIHKE LAKES ON THE BRINK

Tuz Lake, which used covered an area of 371 hectares in the Saray district, and Akgol Lake in the Ozalp district, which dried up completely last year but were replenished by the spring rains, are now rapidly approaching the brink of drying up again due to the loss of water in recent weeks. Lake Sıhke is experiencing a similar fate.

"EVAPORATION IS THE MAIN PROBLEM"

Dr. Faruk Alaeddinoglu, a professor at the Department of Geography at Van Yuzuncu Yıl University, discussed the situation in the Lake Van basin with Artı Gercek. Alaeddinoglu pointed out that the precipitation that should have come in winter came in spring.

He explained, "Although there was limited precipitation compared to the last three years yet it did make a significant contribution. The increase in water resources during the spring had more to do with reduced evaporation rather than precipitation. The main problem in the basin is not the absence of rain water, but evaporation. The recent global tremperature rise, which has affected the entire world for the past 20 days, has also affected the basin, resulting in continued water loss. This trend is expected to continue until November. As a result, shallow lakes such as Sıhke and Erçek will experience a significant shringage, and smaller lakes will dry up completely. Unfortunately, this is inevitable.

INCREASING DROUGHT AND THE NEED FOR PLANNING

Alaeddinoglu said that temperatures will continue to rise, leading to further water shortages in the coming years. He stressed the importance of taking precautions, saying, "We can expect a succession of hot years and increasing drought. The global temperature trend is increasing and it is unlikely that rainy periods will return. Turkey and the world will experience extreme temperatures, which will lead to the drying up of many water resources. Since our basin contains wetlands, it will be particularly affected. As a closed basin, it requires proper management and planning, which needs to be done immediately".

DEPLETION OF STREAMS AND RIVERS THAT FEED LAKE VAN

Ali Kalcık, president of the Van Environmental Association, highlighted the significant water loss not only in Lake Van, but also in the lakes, streams and reservoirs within the basin. Kalcik said, "Despite significant rainfall in the first half of the year, the drought continues due to global climate change. We are experiencing heavy evaporation. The water capacity of the Zernek, Kockopru, Morgedik and Sarı Memet dams has dropped below 20 percent. More than a hundred rivers and streams feed Lake Van, but a significant number of them have dried up and others have experienced reduced flows."

MISUSE OF WATER RESOURCES AND THE NEED FOR CORRECTIVE MEASURES

Kalcık pointed out that in addition to evaporation, water resources are being misused. He stressed the urgency of switching to drip irrigation and implementing controlled water use, rather than treating water as a commodity. Kalcik gave an example: "About 50 cubic meters of water are wasted every winter from the Morgedik dam to supply water to hydroelectric power plants. As a result, the Zilan Creek is currently without water. This situation has also led to the death of the Van fish. The pearl mullet, which migrates to freshwater to lay its eggs, has not returned due to the reduced water levels in the creeks. The eggs laid by the fish disappear due to the lack of water. Water resources such as Değirmi Lake, Akgol Lake, Sıhke Lake and Kesis Lake are under serious threat. Lake Arin, located between Ahlat and Adilcevaz, is the most endangered. It has a vibrant ecosystem and many species, especially dikkuyruks, are threatened with extinction".