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Prospects for agricultural water management
The Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP) was planned for the lower Euphrates and the Tigris river basins within Turkey’s boundaries and is the biggest investment in the history of the country. The GAP is an integrated development project involving irrigated agriculture, agro-industry and supporting services including communications, healthcare and education. It includes 13 major projects of which 7 are in the Euphrates river basin and 6 in the Tigris river basin. After full development it will include 22 dams and 19 hydroelectric power plants and the irrigation of almost 1.82 million ha. By 2005, 75 percent of the investment in energy and 12 percent of the investment in irrigation had been made with 213 000 ha under irrigation. At present, 103 000 ha in the Euphrates river basin and 57 000 ha in the Tigris river basin are under construction. In 1998, the Turkish Government decided to complete all irrigation investment in the GAP at the end of 2010 and, as a result, investment in irrigation is the top priority to cover plans for the remaining 910 000 ha in the Euphrates river basin and 540 000 ha in the Tigris river basin.
In most of the new development areas, sprinkler and localized irrigation will be used, especially drip irrigation. Surface irrigation is permitted only on the flat areas near the southern boundaries of Turkey. These irrigation projects have been financed locally and by international agencies.
Overall, however, the performance of the irrigation schemes have not yet reached acceptable levels (Wasamed, 2003). Irrigation efficiencies in almost all systems are low and, for various reasons, it is not yet possible to irrigate the total area. In all irrigation schemes, there are considerable variations in the size of the irrigated area and cropping pattern from year to year.
Water consumption projections by sector for 2030 have been made considering the needs of a growing population as well as those of the rapidly developing sectors of industry and tourism. These projections are based on the assumption that the DSI and the other agencies involved, including private sector companies, will develop their projects so that by 2030, 110 km3 of water will be available – the figure now considered to be the total exploitable renewable water resources. The projection presupposes that the 8.5 million ha of land that is economically irrigable will be brought under irrigation by the year 2030 and that total irrigation water withdrawal will reach 71.5 km3 by the same year. The target is to reduce the share of irrigation water in total water consumption to 65 percent by introducing and promoting more water-saving irrigation techniques (Wasamed, 2003). It is assumed that the present rate of population growth will begin to slow down and that the total population of the country will be around 90 million in 2030. Projections regarding water withdrawal for municipal purposes indicate a need for 25.3 km3 in 2030, of which 5 km3 for tourism. Assuming that the industry sector has an average annual growth rate of 4 percent, its projected water need in 2030 will be 13.2 km3.
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the exploitable renewable water resources are enough to irrigate only 8?9 million ha. In order to irrigate a larger area, new sources of water need to be developed, such as non-conventional sources of water. Water treatment units are to be constructed in all residential and production areas. In addition, it is planned to equip 4 065 village units to treat wastewater biologically, as required by the Ministry of Agriculture at the end of 2006. Up to now, it is reported that very few village units treat wastewater because of organizational and bureaucratic problems and untreated wastewater is used directly for irrigation. The Government is working to solve these problems and extend the wastewater treatment project to all village units in Turkey.