Lake Meke, in Turkey, is drying up after years of little rainfall and groundwater overdraft for irrigation purposes. Only some puddles can be seen on the lake bed, and water has turned red due to the presence of microorganisms, reports the Daily Sabah.
Very shallow and saline, Meke is a volcanic crater lake in the Karapinar district, province of Konya, in central Turkey. The crater formed as a result of a volcanic eruption some 5 million years ago and later filled with groundwater. A second volcanic eruption about 9,000 years ago led to the formation of a second volcanic cone ─ 50 metres high ─ in the middle of the lake; this one also filled with water in time creating a second lake.
Meke Crater Lake Natural Monument was designated as a first grade protected area in 1989, a natural monument in 1998, and a Ramsar site in 2005. Although the lake water cannot be used directly for agricultural purposes due to high conductivity, water is pumped for irrigation purposes from almost 10 wells within 10 km2 around the lake. Opening new wells in the region was banned in 2003, according to a report from the Turkish government on the country’s Ramsar sites.
Although it once was 12 metres deep, drought and unregulated groundwater use are gradually drying it up. The site reportedly supported almost 100 bird species until 2003, but degraded in recent years. Most of the birds do not frequent the lake anymore.
The mayor of Karapinar district, Mehmet Yaka, said the lake could be restored to its former beauty and help address water scarcity if the authorities prepare an action plan and examine the use of water resources in the area. He also added it could contribute to the tourism sector in the country with proper planning by the Ministry of Environment and Urbanisation.