Photo shows a water reserve tank in Istanbul Water Control and Automation Center in Istanbul, Türkiye, on March 7, 2023. (Xinhua photo)
ISTANBUL, March 9 (Xinhua) -- Sevda Ozdemir cooks lunch for about 30 people daily at a workplace in the busy Sisli district of Istanbul, the biggest city in Türkiye. To maintain hygiene, she used to carefully clean fresh vegetables and fruits under running water for an extended period of time.
However, Ozdemir had to give up the habit a while ago as the municipal authorities in Istanbul urged the residents to save water amid a severe drought.
"Instead of washing the vegetables under running water, I choose to soak them in a bowl filled with vinegar water," Ozdemir said, adding she believed that vinegar can help kill the bacteria.
Ekrem Imamoglu, mayor of Istanbul, said insufficient rainfall for the past few months has put more strains on the already-limited water resources in Istanbul, a city that hosts more than 20 million people and consumes 1.1 billion cubic meters of water every year.
This aerial photo taken on Jan. 28, 2023 shows sinkholes in Konya, Türkiye. (Photo by Mustafa Kaya/Xinhua)
At the office of the Istanbul Water Control and Automation Center (ISKOM), the staff are more worried than ever.
"Our data show we are experiencing the driest period of the last 22 years," Ismail Aydin, head of the Department of Water and Wastewater Technologies of ISKOM, told Xinhua in the coordination room while checking the latest data on giant digital screens.
He said the water levels in all seven dams in the city are experiencing drastic decreases, adding the water reservoirs are only at 35 percent of their capacity.
Ismail Aydin, head of the Department of Water and Wastewater Technologies of Istanbul Water Control and Automation Center, checks the latest water levels in Istanbul's dams at the coordination center in Istanbul, Türkiye, March 7, 2023. (Xinhua photo)
"At this time last year, it was 80 percent. Unfortunately, it's very low right now. The expected rainfall did not come, and we are now faced with a big problem," Aydin noted.
He warned that even if the precipitation returns to the normal level in the next few months, the water scarcity won't be solved because the demand in summer is also much bigger.
"Istanbul is a city that heavily relies on rainfall to meet its need for water," the ISKOM official said, explaining that the city lacks underground water and has no river running through it.
This aerial photo taken on Jan. 5, 2023 shows Alibeykoy Dam, one of the dams that provide drinking water for the people of Istanbul, in Türkiye. (Photo by Unal Cam/Xinhua)
Many major cities around the world, according to Aydin, are facing similar water stress. Many factors contribute to the problem, including irregular migration, unplanned building, and the opening of water basins for construction.
"Of course, we are also seeing global climate change, which is caused by a variety of human activities," he added.
"Our consumption habits must change. We must act as responsible individuals when using water and take measures to protect our city, country, and world," Aydin said. ■