SMART: Sustainable Management
of Scarce Resources
in the Coastal Zone

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TURKEY: Gediz River Basin, Izmir

The Turkish case study will focus on two major and closely related problems in western Anatolia along the Aegean Sea. The first one is the case of the Gediz River Basin, neighbouring the city of Izmir, where water scarcity is a significant problem. Water shortage is due basically to competition for water among various uses (water allocation problems) mainly irrigation with a total command area of 110,000 ha versus the domestic and fast growing industrial demand in the coastal zone, and environmental pollution although the basin experiences droughts from time to time. Water use in the 90,000 hectares of the central and delta zones is limited to 75 m3/sec from Demirkopru and 15 m3/sec from Gol Marmara for a release period of approximately 60 days, or a total of some 550 million cubic meters during the year. This is equivalent to some 450 mm of irrigation water for the growing season. There are serious institutional, legal, social and economic drawbacks, which enhance water allocation and environmental pollution problems.

The second issue to be investigated is the sustainable management of water resources in the Izmir urban and rural area where coastal interactions are significant. This problem reflects not only a regional character but also national significance, as Izmir is the third largest city in the country and an important harbour along the Aegean. The Gediz River discharges into the outer Izmir Bay. However, there are strong interactions between the basin and the Izmir rural area, as the Izmir metropolitan area consumes a significant portion of the groundwater resources of the Gediz Basin without feeding it back to the basin. As the city is continuously growing, its pressure on water resources of the basin is also increasing. There are two important industrial areas in the Basin. The largest is in the Nif Valley immediately east of Izmir in Kemalpasa municipality. There is also a growing industrial estate in the western edge of the city of Manisa.

The seaward fringe of the Gediz Delta is an important nature reserve and has recently been designated as a Ramsar site to protect rare bird species. Originally, the area received excess water from the Gediz River for much of the year, but since 1990, with restrictions on irrigation releases, the reserve suffers from water shortages. The summer months are the critical time for providing water specifically for the nature reserve, since, during the winter, water is available from the Gediz River before flowing to the sea. A second component of environmental demand is the water needed for waste conveyance from points of origin within the Basin to the sea. In transporting wastes, the flow must provide sufficient velocity to keep organic compounds and heavy metals adsorbed onto soil particles from settling out before reaching the sea and sufficient dilution to avoid in-stream environmental harm. Obviously reducing the pollutant loads, which must be carried, will reduce the quantity of water needed for this purpose.

Apart from this situation, there are a good number of creeks that discharge directly into the inner Bay, causing significant pollution problems and flooding (in the last big flood of 1995, 70 people died; in another very recent one on August 2001, 4 people died). Flooding is basically due to the mismanagement of these creeks and to erosion problems since the vegetation cover in upstream regions is highly destroyed in favour of establishing new settlements for the ever-growing population. As a result of these problems, the Bay is highly polluted and continues to be under stress. It is observed that urban growth, taking place since 1960s, has been increasingly devouring the space along the Bay of Izmir regardless of the value of its natural resources. In spite of their great efforts, the local, as well as regional and national authorities, have not been able to channel such a growth which affects almost all the spheres of economic life, bringing about conflicts between different users and creating an even larger gap between the development processes and the quality of the environment. Occupation of land for illegal housing has taken great proportions in Izmir.

Izmir, together with its suburban areas and "satellite cities", is a major industrial area. At present, the city of Izmir is burdened by a structure of development factors, which endanger the quality of the environment (polluting industries, etc.) This, coupled with difficulties to establish an appropriate and well coordinated control over the use of natural resources and pollution, brought about environmental degradation, resource depletion and pollution-related damages.

There is a close interaction between these issues as the inland practices of water and land management lead to coastal problems in the Izmir Bay. Thus, the region as a whole requires analysis on sustainable management of natural resources from various perspectives. What is need for an integrated coastal zone management is first, the identification of causes of basic problems using integrated information technologies and second, policy analysis based on informed decision-making. The case study addresses the problems of water shortage, competing use, and high levels of pollution that are typical for the coastal zone and its rapid economic development. The linkage between the physical constraints and the institutional and policy shortcoming are the main topic.

The end user group includes the State Hydraulic Works (DSI), Ministry of Environment (MoE), Metropolitan Municipality of Izmir (MMI), other local governments in the Gediz River Basin, General Directorate of Rural Services (GDRS), irrigation associations (IAs), other irrigators, industries, Bank of Provinces (IB), and NGOs.


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