Water consumption in Turkey has become under scrutiny as authorities urge people to wash their hands frequently amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Since majority of the population stay home nowadays in order to prevent the spread of the highly contagious virus, there are fears that the consumption of water will increase and that the occupancy rates of the country’s water dams will be affected.
“A large segment of the population staying at home has not had an obvious affect on the levels of the dams,” Hüseyin Karaaslan, a civil engineer, said on Twitter regarding Istanbul’s water consumption since March 11 – the date that the country reported its first coronavirus case.
“On the other hand, when we look at Istanbul’s water usage, there is consistent annual increase. A normal course indicates that the risk is not alarming. Of course, a pandemic is a development that falls outside of the normal course,” he added.
Saying that there will be an increase in water usage these days over hygiene concerns, Karaaslan noted that water consumption will not decrease in the city during summer since people won’t be leaving Istanbul for touristic purposes.
‘Fall in tourism to have an affect’
“On the other hand, usage may decrease over remigration. Those who return to their hometowns during summer have started going early this year due to the outbreak’s affects on health and the economy. We can predict the continuation of this process since an official quarantine is not imposed,” he said.
“Besides, water consumption can be expected to decrease since a decrease will also take place in the number of tourists visiting Istanbul,” Karaaslan said, as he also pointed to the fact that the cease of production in businesses that consume water heavily may also lead to a decrease.
The General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works, meanwhile, released a written statement on March 27, saying that “water has become more precious than ever” since consumption has increased since the beginning of the outbreak, while urging people to take measures to prevent excessive water consumption.
“It’s our civic responsibility. For instance, we can turn the tap off when we are washing our hands instead of letting water flow for 20 seconds. We can prevent excessive water consumption with such simple but effective measures,” it said.
Istanbul Water and Sewerage Administration (İSKİ) said that dam occupancy rates stand at some 64 percent, adding that there has been a 4 percent increase in water consumption when compared to last year.
Sharing statistics on daily water usage since March 11, İSKİ said that there hasn’t been a major fluctuation in numbers.
“There isn’t an alarm situation in terms of Istanbul’s water resources. However, even if the dams were 100 percent full, water needs to be consumed without wasting the resources,” it also said.