Water of the Middle East and North Africa

Availability and Use of Water Resources in Turkey

turkey water - flag pole at water front - availability and use of water resources

Turkey’s mean annual precipitation is 643mm, which amounts to 501 billion cubic metres (BCM) of water. Of this, 274BCM evaporate and 69BCM leak into aquifers and thus are lost from the water budget. Of the total amount, 158BCM are mixed with rivers and lakes as surface water. While 7BCM come from neighbouring countries, 41BCM are retrieved from groundwater contributing to surface water, and this amount is included in the water budget. Turkey’s overall water potential is 234BCM, but given the country’s economic and technical constraints, the annual exploitable water potential has been calculated as less than half that, at 110BCM. According to the Ministry of Development’s plan for 2014, Turkey currently uses 39% of its exploitable water potential.[1]

Irrigation accounts for the majority – 73% – of water usage. A further 16% is used as drinking water and 11% in industry. As shown in Table 2, in 2012 36BCM was used for irrigation, 7BCM for domestic water and 7BCM for industry. The total amount of 50BCM is equivalent to 44.6% of Turkey’s overall water potential. [3]

Amount of water (billion m3)
Total Volume of Water501
Discharge from the Water BudgetThe Amount of Water Vaporized in the Atmosphere-274
The Amount of Water Mixed up in the Ground-69
Recharge to the Water BudgetThe Amount of Water Mixed up from the Neighbor Countries+7
The Amount of Water Rising to Surface from Ground Water through Springs+28
Overall Renewable Water Potential234 (192+41)
Utilizable Water Potential110

Table 1. Turkey’s overall water potential. [2]

It is estimated that water consumption will be 112BCM in 2023. According to projections by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK), Turkey’s population will reach nearly 90 million in 2030, and the water potential will decrease from 1,652m3 to 1,244m3 per capita per year. According to the Falkenmark Index, which classifies countries in terms of their per capita water potential, Turkey is ‘water stressed’ since it has 1,000-1,500m3 of water potential per capita. According to the same scale, if Turkey’s per capita water potential were to fall below 1,000m3, the country would be considered ‘water scarce’ and measures to ensure more efficient use of water resources would be needed. [4]

Irrigation36 billion m372 billion m3
Domestic7 billion m318 billion m3
Industrial7 billion m322 billion m3
Total50 billion m3112 billion m3

Table 2. Breakdown of water consumption.[3]

[1] Mehmetcik Bayazıt ve İlhan Avcı, “Water Resources of Turkey: Potential, Planning, Development and Management”, International Journal of Water Resources Development, Vol 13, Number4, December 1997, 443-453, p.444; DSİ, Land and Water resources.
[2] Özden Bilen, 2009, Türkiye’nin Su Gündemi: Su Yönetimi ve AB Su Politikaları, DSİ, Ankara, p.74.
[3] DSİ, Water and DSİ, 2013, Ankara, p.18.
[4] Aaron T. Wolf, Shira B. Yofee and Mark Giordana, International waters: indicators for identifying basins at risk, UNESCO, s.9.