Record rains mean Lake Tuz ’can breathe’

June 24, 2011, Friday/ 17:30:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

The fact that the area of Lake Tuz (Salt Lake) has decreased by a dramatic 60 percent in 18 years has caused concern that it might completely dry up in years to come. However, the last two years of rainfall have effectively delayed it drying up, meaning that Lake Tuz "can now breathe."

Geomatics Engineering Associate Proffessor Semih Ekercin at Aksaray University Faculty of Engineering said he is continuing to study the risk of drought at Lake Tuz and the Konya plain by carrying out research involving satellite images and on-site observation. The changes in Lake Tuz's water and reduction levels from year to year show that “The two greatest concerns about Lake Tuz is its reduction in size and drought. Climate change, cut-off in water sources and over-use of wells are factors causing the lake's reduction. When the lowest water level of the lake is measured at the end of the summer season, it appears as though the area of the lake is getting smaller,” he said.

Especially in the years after 1990, Ekercin said that the unknowingly excessive use of water wells had a negative impact on the Konya basin. “In 2005 and 2006, the lake underwent periods of dry spells.”

Indeed, during our studies of the satellite images from 1987 to 2005, we found that the area of Lake Tuz had shrunk by 60 percent in those 18 years. In 2009 and 2010 there was a record levels of rainfall. In 2009 in Aksaray, rainfall levels reached a maximum. The average rainfall rate rose for almost 10 years and then periods of drought were experienced. Rainy periods followed by dry spells "literally allows the lake to breathe."

Ekercin stressed that the record levels of rainfall in the last two years and this year's above normal precipitation has delayed the lake drying out.

In addition to problems arising from the patterns of rainfall, Ekerin also emphasized the importance of water management and control of the groundwater reserves of Lake Tuz and the Konya basin.

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