Water is a fundamental substance that we use actively in almost every aspect of life. In addition to being the essential nutrient, it is used extensively in industry, agriculture, transportation and energy production.
Owing to the idea of benefiting from these versatile advantages of water, humans have opted to settle in areas near water resources throughout history. Areas such as Mesopotamia, including the Euphrates and Tigris, were essentially places where the foundations of today's modern cities were laid.
It is possible to encounter traces of water almost everywhere on our planet. Although most of them are in the sea and oceans, they can be found in the air as steam, in the soil as moisture, as well as in glaciers, lakes, rivers and as groundwater in aquifers.
However, it does not stay in one place permanently as it circulates in a continuous loop. There is no depletion of water due to this constant movement; but factors such as excessive consumption, pollution and equitable distribution create hard-to-compensate problems for present and future generations.
Some prominent problems are the random discharge of the water used, the damage to the agricultural lands, the pollution of groundwater, the disturbance of the balance in the ecosystems of the sea and other water bodies.
According to United Nations data, 80% of the wastewater generated in the world is discharged into water resources without treatment.
Chemical pesticides and fertilizers used in agriculture that are carried with rainwater particularly threaten surface and groundwater water resources.
Likewise, the wastewater generated as a result of industrial activities exacerbates the danger daily. Considering the health problems caused by water due to lack of treatment facilities and environmental pollution, on average 1.5 million to 2 million people die from water-related diseases every year.
When it comes to environmental pollution, the main focus is usually on air, water and soil pollution. The most easily and quickly polluted of these is undoubtedly water.
Moreover, pollution is most easily transported to other sources, soil and other water bodies by waterway. In other words, wastewater also poses a great risk to other clean water resources, such as groundwater, sea and lakes.
The Ministry of Environment and Urbanization issues policies to protect Turkish water resources and other recipient environments.
Within the framework of Environmental Law No. 2872, the ministry carries out efforts to eliminate the wastewater generated as a result of all kinds of activities, to protect the existing water quality and to prevent the use of water resources from being adversely affected.
Investments made within the framework of the Water Pollution Control Regulation and Urban Wastewater Pollution Control Regulation are increasing day by day.
Domestic and industrial wastewater is treated under the conditions specified in the regulations for the protection of the environment and human health and discharged according to standards.
In the last 20 years, there has been a significant increase in the number of wastewater treatment facilities, most of which offer biological and advanced biological treatment.
Within this framework, the number of wastewater treatment facilities has increased from 145 to 1,170 with a ninefold increase, while the population of the municipality that provides wastewater service through these facilities has increased from 35% to 89% with a 2.5-fold increase.
This wastewater, which is treated by the cyclical economy principles, is reused, and the sewage sludge formed in the treatment plants can also be used as a soil regulator if of appropriate quality.
In addition, production techniques have been regulated so additional measures can be implemented in the olive, olive oil and textile sectors where the treating of wastewater is difficult.
In regions with polluted water basins, restrictions can be made on the receiving of water from organized industrial zones to protect resources.
Solving the environmental problems that arise from industrialization and its development in a controlled manner is enabled by disciplining the industry, in other words, by the organized industrial zones.
Within the scope of the 11th article of the Environmental Law, the management of the organized industrial zones was responsible for the establishment, maintenance, repair and operation of wastewater infrastructure systems. The periods were arranged with the wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) according to discharge standards.
Within these periods, the organized industrial zones are required to establish and operate WWTPs.
The management of the organized industrial zones is required to complete the wastewater infrastructure systems with both equity and loan opportunities and enter information regarding the disposal of wastewater generated according to the environment discharge standards into the wastewater information system.
Some 106 of 238 of the actively operating organized industrial zones in Turkey have WWTPs and 57 of them discharge their wastewater to the municipal canal.
The project, construction and tender processes of 23 organized industrial zones related to the WWTP are ongoing, while the number of the organized industrial zones without the WWTP is currently 53.
The most significant reason why these organized industrial zones cannot establish the WWTP is that their occupancy rate is not sufficient.
However, facilities in the organized industrial zones that do not have the WWTP are obliged to establish and operate their own treatment facilities.
Operating the treatment facility effectively is as crucial as establishing the facility. In the operational phase, energy consumption constitutes the biggest expense in treatment facilities.
In order to support the operation of the WWTPs of the organized industrial zones under the legislation by the Turkish Ministry, 50% of the electrical energy expenses they use in treatment are reimbursed by the ministry to the facilities that have established WWTPs since 2011 and operated following the legislation.
In this respect, a return of approximately TL 606 million ($72.2 million) was made in the last year.
Ankara attaches great importance to monitoring pollutant parameters originating from industrial facilities and in the surrounding environment.
Within the scope of the "Continuous Wastewater Monitoring Systems (CWMS) Communique" published for monitoring and controlling industrial facilities, the outlet waters of 308 WWTPs with an installed capacity of 10,000 cubic meters per day and above are monitored 24/7 at CWMS stations, and the data is transferred to the base.
Among the 308 facilities monitored in total within the scope of the CWMS, 23 of them are for organized industrial zones, 29 of them are industrial wastewater treatment facilities, and the remaining 256 are municipal wastewater treatment plants and cooling water.
We monitor approximately 23,304 cubic meters of wastewater per day from the organized industrial zones, 68,488 cubic meters of wastewater per day from other industrial wastewater treatment plants, municipal WWTP 1,113,451 cubic meters per day, and 1,464,242 cubic meters per day of wastewater as cooling water.
In total, we monitor 2.702.340 cubic meters of wastewater per day instantaneously, which constitutes approximately 20% of the daily wastewater.
With the latest legislative amendment, we have imposed a CWMS obligation for facilities with an installed capacity of 5,000 cubic meters per day and above, and we have granted these facilities a two-year transition period.
Data is collected from CWMS discharge in minute averages to monitor flow, pH, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, temperature, chemical oxygen demand (COD) and suspended solids (TSS).
These figures provide data on directing the legislation by enabling the analysis of the facilities on a sectoral basis.
Thanks to CWMS studies, when the values of treatment plant output water increase, alarm situations reach our provincial directorates and legal action is taken by our provincial directorates due to possible violations.
In addition to CWMS data, Ankara aimed to ensure effective management of environmental monitoring data obtained from continuous emission measurement systems with monitoring data from basins, sea and air to establish early warning systems, to produce data-based policies, and to direct decision mechanisms, financial support and incentives.
Within the scope of the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) is one of the environmental legislation components of the EU's "Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Communiqué in Textile Sector," which provides significant gains in minimizing industrial pollution and is effectively implemented by the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization.
We have completed studies in nine out of 33 sectors within the scope of the IED, while studies in five sectors continue.
Within the scope of the environmental law, a cooperative operation of a joint treatment plant to prevent water pollution caused by industrial facilities has been established, while technical support is provided by the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization at the point of gathering individual industries to establish a wastewater infrastructure cooperative and to shape its institutional structure.
The technical support for the establishment of the wastewater infrastructure cooperative of the enterprises set up in the Kahramanmaraş Aksu Stream basin is an example of this.
Clean water should be used efficiently. The United Nations, in a decision made in 1958, stated that "good quality water should not be used for purposes where lower quality water is sufficient unless there is more."
For example, you do not need high-quality water to irrigate parks and gardens. Again, you do not need high-quality water for cooling water in industry and power generation facilities.
In such cases, using lower quality water rather than high would be a crucial step to protect our water resources.
Otherwise, if drinking water is wasted in every field of activity, there will be a serious cost.
In this respect, legislation has been implemented by the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization. The reuse rate of treated wastewater increased to 3.2% by the end of 2020 within the framework of the regulation referred to as the Wastewater Treatment Plants Technical Procedures Communique.
This value appears as an amount equivalent to the annual water requirement of Turkey's tourism paradise Antalya. In line with the strategic goals of the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization, we aim to increase this rate to 5% by the end of 2023 and to 15% by 2030.
We are in a period in which the climate crisis and water wars are on the world agenda. Water pollution is not only a problem for humanity but also for the realms of vegetation and zoo.
Therefore, we should appreciate its value, use it efficiently and make room for reuse. We should always keep in mind the principle of the Prophet Muhammad: "Avoid wasting while performing ablution, even if you are nearby the river."
In order to protect the receiving environments and to save money by using the existing resources more efficiently and rationally, a host of groundbreaking ceremonies should be held for treatment facilities.
Not only the people but also the fish and the leaves should frantically applaud it.