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Pollution threatens water quality in Istanbul’s creeks

  • Pollution threatens water quality in Istanbul’s creeks

The Ayamama Creek, in Turkey’s largest city Istanbul, has reportedly turned a black and blue colour as a result of heavy water pollution, informs the Daily Sabah.

Formerly known as Constantinople, Istanbul’s more than 15 million residents make it the most populous city in Europe. Ayamama Creek is located on the European side of the city, amid dense urban and industrial areas, and flows into the Marmara Sea. Locals report the creek’s water has changed colour before and gives off a strong smell, as a result of wastewater discharges from textile industries in the area.

Although colour changes can happen naturally in water bodies, creeks like Ayamama are threatened by wastewater from heavy industrial activity and an increasing population.

Last year another creek in Istanbul, Haramidere, changed colour daily reflecting an alarming level of water pollution. Discharges containing dyes from nearby textile factories or dumped illegally from tankers were blamed for the colour changes. The textile industry has a long history and cultural importance in Turkey. It contributes 18% of the country’s total export revenues, being the second largest export earner, but it has important environmental impacts because of its high water consumption and its wastewater discharges.

The fact is water pollution from industrial and domestic sources is a problem in the urban region that threatens environmental and public health, as well as the livelihood of fishers in the Marmara Sea. The latter is an inland sea that connects the Black Sea and the Aegean Sea, an important ecosystem and waterway with diverse marine life. Last summer a thick foam known as marine mucilage or “sea snot”, made of organic matter, covered the sores of the Sea of Marmara. The largest outbreak of this kind on record, it was blamed on pollution as well as global warming, which accelerated the growth of algae responsible for the mucilage, leading to oxygen depletion for marine life.

While the Turkish government dealt with the mucilage with a fleet of emergency cleaning boats, it also announced plans to reduce pollution, ensuring coastal cities such as Istanbul properly treat wastewater, and designate the sea as a protected area. Muharrem Balci, a biology professor at Istanbul University, said a long-term solution requires environmental monitoring, as well as suitable disposal systems for discharges from urban and industrial areas.

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