Water is precious in Turkey

Liz-Ann Eyford focuses on the water issues in Turkey in this snippet from Turkey

  • May. 27, 2015 2:00 p.m.

In a town near Ephesus

I have the good fortune to know some Turks who love to travel and share their culture. Each trip has afforded new sights and delightful cultural differences. Snippets from Turkey are just a few of my observations from this amazing historical world that tries to blend modernity with tradition.

Whether in villages or cities, Turkish society is collective in nature and clusters together. Providing water for these clusters is a massive job for the municipalities and it seems that most water comes from reservoirs or lakes. One major factor is that large areas of Turkey are hot and dry so water might be loaded with debris.  The authorities add cleansers and conditioners to make the water safe and it is drinkable but locals complain that it tastes of soap and smells like medicine. There are public water stations where one or more taps supposedly provide natural water and people bring many large containers to fill because it’s free. You might find these places on the side of a hill or in the middle of a city.

I watched with delight as a pair of young fellows, each standing on one foot with the other resting on the ledge of the water station, balanced on each other, arm over arm, as they took turns drinking from the spout.

It would be my guess, however, that most people rely on a bottled water system of some kind. Many use a water cooler system with jugs delivered every few days while various sized bottles of water are sold at every store, at street kiosks and by wandering sales people along the beach. I have found that the water in bottles varies greatly and that I prefer certain brands over others. But, delivering water to the masses is a big business that has a huge side effect. Plastic water bottles are, in most places, considered garbage and as such, are often tossed to the side of the road.

Turkey has a huge plastic garbage problem that seems to have no easy fix.

Back to water. What about hot water? The first week in this country I washed in very cool water. It was silly of me to try to shower in the morning since the sun was not yet at full intensity. How do those two ideas mesh?

Well, many houses and hotels use a solar system for hot water. You can see tanks on the roof with piping winding through the solar panels.

Gravity then does its duty as needed but there is no way to store warm water. Overnight, the tank cools down and won’t warm up till noon or later if the sun is shining.

On cloudy days, the water is only as warm as the air temperature and on some days, there has been ice on the puddles.

Thankfully, in modern buildings, internal hot water systems are installed so I have delightfully enjoyed the warmth.

A caring attitude is obvious in many ways and it touches on water as well.

There are many water tubs left along the sidewalks for stray critters.

And in parks, there are plumbed water stations. In one, a pigeon was happily bathing.

Water is a precious resource that most of us take for granted but you can see how fortunate we, in Canada, are when you travel to a country that does not enjoy natural reserves such as ours.

– Submitted by Liz-Ann Eyford

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