Surrounded by Water but Faced with Shortages

Language Turkish
September 15, 2011 7 p.m. local time

© 2003 WikiCommons/Christiaan Briggs cc by sa 3.0

How can a country with a water delivery system dating back to 117 A.D. suffer from a water shortage? It may sound crazy, but it’s a reality the city deals with every day. Famously renamed many times (think: Byzantium and Constantinople), this Turkish financial and cultural center was once the head of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. Istanbul was awarded such privilege because of its prime real estate (location, location, location!) on the Mediterranean Sea connecting Europe to the Middle East. The largest city in Turkey today, Istanbul is the only metropolis in the world that sits on two continents (Europe and Asia). As Istanbul’s population boomed, water became scarcer — setting the city up for trouble to come as Turkey gets warmer and drier because of climate change.

© 2006 WikiCommons/Bertil Videt cc by sa 3.0

Climate change also threatens the water supply in the rest of Turkey. Current climate models project declines in rain and snow in western and southern Turkey later this century. And the mighty Tigris and Euphrates Rivers — critical for irrigation and energy projects across much of Turkey — are expected to deliver less and less water as the climate changes.


Ergem Senyuva is an environmentalist and sustainability advocate in Turkey. Ergem was educated in the United States and worked for the World Bank before returning to Turkey in 2006. Upon her return in 2009, she launched, Turkey’s first online “green directory” and sustainability platform that provides consumers with tools to make smart and healthy decisions for themselves and the planet. Ergem’s goal is to raise awareness about sustainability and to increase market demand for sustainable business practices and consumer choices, particularly among her fellow Turks.