The central biological wastewater treatment plant in Turkey’s southeastern province of Van (Wan) is heavily polluting the endangered and delicate ecosystem around Lake Van.
Van Environmental Association (ÇEV-DER) Chair Ali Kalçık has raised serious concerns about the wastewater treatment facility, reportedly polluting Lake Van with 1,800 litres of sewage water per second.
According to Kalçık, the release of untreated sewage into the lake is causing irreversible damage, posing a threat to the unique biodiversity and wildlife that depend on the lake’s ecosystem for survival.
Kalçık emphasised the gravity of the situation and told the Mezopotamya agency that immediate action was required to address the environmental pollution. He expressed disappointment that the promised measures, such as sediment cleanup and a comprehensive watershed study, were not carried out as originally announced by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The failure to clean the lake’s sediment, which is crucial for maintaining an ecological balance, poses a significant risk to the survival of aquatic species, particularly the critically endangered Van fish. Kaçık criticised the deceptive approach taken, where sediment purportedly cleaned was simply discharged near the shoreline, resulting in a stench during the summer months.
The facility, completed in 2021 at a cost of 180 million Turkish liras (over $7,600,000), was intended to meet the city’s wastewater treatment needs for the next 50 years and prevent further pollution of Lake Van. However, it has since become a source of contamination, jeopardising the lake’s ecosystem.
Lake Van recently came to the agenda with the extreme drought due to global climate change. Due to the decrease in precipitation in recent years, water loss in the lake continues to increase. Despite rainfall, water levels remain alarmingly low, threatening the lake’s sustainability and exacerbating the pollution problem.
Van ÇEV-DER, alongside concerned citizens, environmental organisations, and local communities, urges authorities to prioritise and take prompt action to protect Van Lake from further pollution, preserve its unique ecosystem, and safeguard the livelihoods of local communities dependent on the lake’s resources.