Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş has announced plans to convert seawater to drinking water, setting a precedent for the country with a landmark project.
Topbaş spoke about the project to reporters, while he was promoting a wastewater treatment plant in the city's Büyükçekmece district.
The project does not stem from the city's water demand but simply to demonstrate the ability to convert water, the mayor insisted.
"We will soon launch a seawater treatment facility. It will be a small-scale project, confined to one district. We don't need it currently, but we aim to pioneer scientific efforts in this field," he said. Istanbul municipality's water distribution authority İSKİ will cooperate with universities for the project. "It will provide a launch pad for this technology. Students and engineers in this field will benefit from studying the technology," the mayor stated.
The municipality had announced a seawater treatment plant was in the works in 2007 in Çatalca on the city's European side, near Terkos Lake, but the project did not come to fruition. Treatment of seawater is a costly task, as it needs high-energy consumption for the plant and infrastructure. However, Topbaş gave assurances that the municipality has enough revenues in its coffers.
Seawater treatment is not new in Turkey. Avşa, a small island in the Marmara Sea with which Istanbul is littoral, already has a facility supplying water to a small population since 2010. Nevertheless, Istanbul will likely become the first big city to experiment with the idea.
Istanbul, with a population of over 17 million, was at the center of concerns for drought after last year's severely dry weather. Yet, a season of heavy rainfall last autumn and winter, assuaged concerns as several dams supplying drinking water to the city were again filled to the brim.
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