January 15 2014

Istanbul, Turkey’s Water Scarcity Dilemma

Both glorious and notorious for many reasons, the city of Istanbul has many urban issues greatly affecting the everyday life of its residents. Considering the fourteen million population and increasing, water is indeed among the most problematic of issues. Providing drinking water, the purification of waste water and facilitating its reuse… etc. all fall under the observation of water management.

Wastewater is indeed a major segment in environmental pollution control, for Istanbul also has gigantic industrial zones and many business districts. Therefore, the Water and Wastewater Infrastructure panel at WICS 2013 was especially important because it was an opportunity to see what governmental precautions and implementations are being made in Istanbul.

Topographic map of Turkey

The panel had two speakers, Çetin Çibuk (Chief Information Officer of İSKİ) and Ünal Bostan (Head of Department at İSU). As Bostan expressed in a conceptual way, finding solutions to Istanbul’s water issues is very much linked to the livability of the city. Bostan says İSU wants to make Istanbul “a city that makes its residents feel good” by taking care of issues such as providing good quality water and drinking water and disposal of waste water “without being noticed.” Considering the astronomical amounts of water use and disposal in such a large city, and the hilly character of its compelling topography, makes water management challenging, not to mention urban management. “This is why we need to be collecting as much data as possible,” Bostan stated.

Speaking of collecting data, the waste water management system “Scada,” introduced by Çibuk, had important points related to data transfer for Istanbul’s waste water, 10,500,000 m3 of water is being purified every month. SCADA is an online measurement system that enables online data transfer. Scada is being used in environmental pollution control, especially for industrial facilities. Scada enables the online measurement of the wastewater quality in those facilities; and in the case that limits are exceeded samples, which are taken automatically, are sent to laboratories. The facilities are then informed about the lab results. Facilities that produce industrial waste are subject to monitoring on 10+ parameters.

Communication, which is the main challenge in most of the data sharing systems as mentioned before, is handled through broadband technology in the Scada system. Using broadband technology has great advantages, such as high speed. It also enables the institution it is used by to function independently.

In Istanbul, ninety-nine wastewater and drinking water stations are being monitored online. Systems like Scada are also used for measuring rain water. Rain water measurement sensors are used to evaluate the prospective precipitation intensity and forecast whether it is going to rain locally or not. With such systems it is easier to take precautions for excessive precipitation.

Gulf of Izmit, Turkey

Some concrete proof of Scada’s success: Some beaches in the Gulf of Izmit (Karamürsel-Altınkemer, Kandıra-Cebeci) have been qualified enough to get Blue Flags. “Blue Flag is an exclusive eco-label given to beaches and marinas having reached a standard stated in the criteria.” These spots in İzmit are also reported to have improvement in the biodiversity of their water.

It is not wrong to say proper use of smart systems in urban management contribute to environmental pollution controlling and energy efficiency in many aspects. Do you happen to know any other examples such as Scada or environmental success stories related to smart technology use? If so, please share and contribute.

Credits: Images and Data linked to sources.

Çiğdem Yılmazer

Çiğdem Yılmazer is an Istanbul-based architect. During her time studying at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University she worked at the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut on a project basis, did volunteer work as a translator and editor for an environmental architecture magazine, as well as reporting and moderating for an international peace network and translating for a human rights organization. After graduation she worked as an editor for an architectural media company and then was the Assistant Executive Editor for the environmental architecture magazine she volunteered for while in school. Her work related to the environment gave her the opportunity to get involved in a larger initiative for sustainability. She was invited to present on sustainability challenges in Istanbul’s urban transformation at the Empowering Sustainability Conference at the University of California, Irvine in 2013. In addition to working as a freelance architect, she is currently producing architectural writings and translations. She is also leading the editorial team for the Empowering Sustainability initiative's e-magazine and preparing to start her master’s degree in architectural design.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 15th, 2014 at 9:39 am and is filed under Energy, Government/Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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