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Türkiye Aims to Achieve 15% Wastewater Reuse Amid Global Crisis

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In the face of a global water crisis fueled by urbanization, greenhouse gas emissions, climate change and industrialization, Türkiye’s Ministry of Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change is spearheading initiatives to tackle water scarcity through wastewater reuse. These efforts have already yielded significant results, with the country surpassing its 5% target for treated wastewater reuse for 2023 in the first half of the year, reaching an impressive 5.2%. The ministry now aims to further elevate this rate to 15% by 2030.

As water resources dwindle globally, the imbalance between supply and demand intensifies, posing a growing threat of water scarcity. Wastewater treatment plays a pivotal role in mitigating the environmental impact of used water and ensuring the sustainable utilization of water resources.

According to the Water and Wastewater Statistics published by the Turkish Statistical Institute in 2020, nearly 15.3 billion cubic meters of wastewater, including 9.5 billion cubic meters of cooling water, were directly discharged into the environment by municipalities, villages, manufacturing industry workplaces, thermal power plants, organized industrial zones and mining enterprises.

To encourage wastewater reuse, the ministry offers financial incentives, including refunds of up to 50% on electricity bills, to treatment facilities. Following amendments to Environmental Law No. 2872, this refund rate is gradually increased to 100% for organizations that employ advanced treatment techniques and achieve specified reuse rates.

Professor Sinan Uyanık, a lecturer at the Bursa Technical University Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences, emphasized the significance of wastewater reuse in protecting water resources, conserving water and preventing coastal pollution. He also noted that reuse can provide additional resources, particularly in regions with low rainfall and water shortages.

While desalination of seawater is considered an alternative method, it requires substantial energy input, making wastewater purification a more environmentally friendly solution. Singapore, a water-scarce nation, serves as a global example of wastewater purification and reuse with its innovative “NEWater” program. The city-state collects and purifies wastewater, providing it to the population for consumption, effectively recycling 40% of the city’s water supply.

Similar practices are observed in Spain, where wastewater treatment facilities, like the Llobregat wastewater treatment facility in Barcelona, transform wastewater into purified water used for environmental purposes, agriculture and industry.

In Türkiye, wastewater reuse is also gaining traction. Notably, the Kullar Wastewater Treatment Plant in Kocaeli purifies water for use by Tüpraş, an oil refinery, after advanced treatment. Additionally, in the organized industrial zone in Gebze, wastewater produced by the automotive industry is treated and reused, ensuring a reliable source of high-quality water for industrial processes.

As Türkiye faces water stress, Uyanık stressed the importance of wastewater reuse in regions like Konya and Burdur, where drought is prevalent. He also called for stricter controls on groundwater extraction, highlighting the need to safeguard these strategic water resources.

Türkiye’s journey toward enhanced wastewater reuse underscores the critical role that responsible water management plays in addressing the global water crisis. As the nation sets its sights on ambitious targets for 2030, it serves as an inspiring example of proactive environmental stewardship.

Source: Daily Sabah

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