Last update:

Drying up of Tuz Lake Closed Water Basin, Turkey

This case form has been translated for your convenience by voluntary translators. Therefore, they may contain errors. Any discrepancies or differences created in translating this content from the original version into another language are not binding and have no legal effect. If any questions arise related to the accuracy of the information contained in these translations, please refer to the original version of the case in: Turkish


Once being the biggest salt lake of Europe and second biggest lake of Turkey and despite gaining official protection status of Special Environmental Protection Area since 2000, Tuz Lake and its satellite wetlands (Kulu, Terkesan and Bolluk Lakes, Esmekaya Marshes) face the threat of drying up because of the dominant water polices. Irrigated agriculture carried out intensively in Tuz Lake closed basin is based on illegal groundwater wells. Each year well drillings go deeper and cause the reduction of underground water which naturally feeds the basin, uncontrollable desertification and salinisation. Biological features of the protected area (such as semi-wet habitats) high in endemism are changing and the soil in the region becomes arid and salinised.

See more
Basic Data
Name of conflict:Drying up of Tuz Lake Closed Water Basin, Turkey
State or province:Aksaray, Konya, Ankara
Location of conflict:Kulu, ereflikohisar, Cihanbeyli, Aksaray
Accuracy of locationLOW (Country level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific commodities:Industrial waste
Domestic municipal waste
Natural Gas
Project Details and Actors
Project details

In addition to the impacts of climate change, illegal well drillings for irrigated agriculture activities (especially sugar beet farming) reduced the surface area of Salt Lake around 60% between 1987-2005. Currently the lake is reduced to 130,000 ha. Annually, 6000 m3 water is used on average per hectare of irrigated agricultural land. At the beginning of 2000s the amount of underground water that feeds Tuz Lake was 740 hm3 but it is substantially reduced ever since. Along with the drying up of the lake, semi-wet habitats which host highly endemic halophilous plants are also affected. Esmekaya Marshes used to be an 11,250 ha Important Bird Area until 1997. After the construction of Esmekaya Dam with an irrigation capacity of 6,700 ha, the marshes have dried up and ornithological diversity is destroyed.

See more
Project area:740000
Level of Investment for the conflictive projectGas Storage Plant - USD 640,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:150,000-200,000
Start of the conflict:1997
Company names or state enterprises:General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works from Turkey - for Esmekaya Dam
ATLAS Petroleum, Gas, Import, Export and Marketing Inc. from Turkey - for natural gas storage
China Tianchen Engineering Corporation from China - for natural gas storage
BOTAS from Turkey - for natural gas storage
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock, Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources
International and Finance InstitutionsThe World Bank (WB) from United States of America
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Nature Association, WWF Turkey
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
Reaction stageLATENT (no visible resistance)
Groups mobilizing:No visible mobilization
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Soil erosion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Health ImpactsPotential: Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Displacement
Other socio-economic impactsLoss of income, difficulties in access to water
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Migration/displacement
In 2003 Konya MP Atilla Kart presented a written parliamentary question about the gas storage plant to the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Some actions that have been taken for the area: WWF Turkey carried out Konya Closed Basin Integrated Management Project, but no progress has been made in the conservation of the basin.
Actions for creating public opinion against the plant have not given positive results either. For example, Nature Association organised an event to draw attention to the biodiversity loss and desertification at Tuz Lake by writing Help sign on the surface of the lake using human bodies.
As a result, despite being a Special Environmental Protection Area due to its ecological features, an effective protection has not been observed in Tuz Lake yet.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Environmental Impact Assessment Regulation

Direct Income Support Program

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Ekercin, S., 2001-2007. Uzaktan Alglama ve Corafi Bilgi Sistemleri Entegrasyonu ile Tuz Gl ve Yakn evresinin Zamana Bal Deiim Analizi. Doktora Tezi, T Fen Bilimleri Enstits.

WWF. 2010. Turkiyenin Yarinlari Projesi Sonu Raporu. (Report - Turkish)

Basak, E. 2003. Ecological and Socio-Economic Valuation of Tuz Gl Specially Protected Area, Central Anatolia, Turkey. MSc Thesis, Wageningen University.

Tuz Lake Consortium. 2001. Integrated Feasibility Study for the Sanitation of the Tuz Lake Basin. Final Report for Authority for the Protection of Special Areas, Turkish Ministry of Environment. Ankara.

WWF Turkey
[click to view]

Radikal: Tuz Golunde Mutsuz Flamingolar (Unhappy Flamingos of Tuz Golu - Turkish)
[click to view]

Haber7: Tuz Golunun altina dogal gaz deposu (natural gas storage under Tuz Golu -Turkish)
[click to view]

Milliyet: Uydu fotograflarndan Tuz Golunun tukenisi (Satellite photographs of the extinction Tuz Golu - Turkish)
[click to view]

Enerji Enstitusu (Energy Institute): BOTAS, 569 milyona gazi Tuz Golune depolayacak (BOTAS will pay 569 million, to store gas under Tuz Golu - Turkish)
[click to view]


Radikal: Tuz Glnn llemesine 10 yl kald (10 years to the desertification of Tuz Lake Turkish)
[click to view]

Vatan : Cinliler,Tuz Golunun icini oyup dogalgaz deposu yapacak (Chinese company will carve Tuz Golu into a natural gas tank - Turkish)
[click to view]

Habervitrini : Turkiyenin Dogalgaz Deposu Yapilmak Istenen Tuz Golu, 1. Dereceden 5. Dereceye Kadar Deprem Bolgesi (Natural Gas Tank to be made under Tuz Golu is on 1st to 5th degree earthquake zone - Turkish)
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Turkeys Lake Tuz could disappear by 2015
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Esra Basak
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1048
Legal notice / Aviso legal
We use cookies for statistical purposes and to improve our services. By clicking "Accept cookies" you consent to place cookies when visiting the website. For more information, and to find out how to change the configuration of cookies, please read our cookie policy. Utilizamos cookies para realizar el análisis de la navegación de los usuarios y mejorar nuestros servicios. Al pulsar "Accept cookies" consiente dichas cookies. Puede obtener más información, o bien conocer cómo cambiar la configuración, pulsando en más información.