Dams that supply water to Istanbul have dried up, water authority data shows

According to data provided by the Istanbul Water and Sewerage Administration (İSKİ), the two dams that provide the majority of Istanbul’s water have dried up.

Duvar English

The two dams that provide water to Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul, each have less than 10% water supply, according to data provided by the Istanbul Water and Sewerage Administration (İSKİ).

Kazandere dam only has 8.02% of its water supply, while Pabuçdere has 3.19%. This could be dire news for Istanbul’s over 15 million residents. 

Turkey has been experiencing an intensifying drought since 2019. 2020 was the driest year in five years, and conditions in 2021 only worsened - this summer saw historic wildfires in the country’s south, and intense drought and dwindling water levels throughout the country. At the beginning of this year, Istanbul’s water storage levels were already at their lowest levels in 15 years - at that point, according to İSKİ data, each dam had well over 70% capacity. Now, as this data shows, they are emptier than they have been in recent history. 

The Kazandere and Pabuçdere dams are supplied by the water that flows from the Istranca mountains of Thrace, in western Turkey. There, the Istrancalar Dam is 22.4% full. In Kazandere and Pabuçdere, areas that would have historically been lakes and rivers now look like plains. Some shepherds have even begun sending their animals to graze on the dried riverbeds. 

The entire Marmara region is in a state of extreme drought. According to Prof. Lokman Hakan Tecer, the dean of Tekirdağ Namık Kemal University, the region has experienced 46% less rainfall than it normally would this year. This drought has been experienced in several western Turkish cities, including Edirne and Kırklareli

“There has been a 46% decrease in precipitation as compared to the seasonal normal,” he said, “Precipitation has decreased by half […] According to the September drought index released by the General Directorate of Meteorology, the drought in Edirne, in particular, is moderately severe, while the city of Kırklareli has experienced a mildly dry period.”

The drought was particularly severe in August, according to Prof. Tecer, which made the situation even direr. However, he said that because autumn has come, a period of increased precipitation in the region, it’s possible that these dams will refill.