Bafe Lake, currently suffering severe drought conditions, is on the road to recovery after the World Wildlife Foundation, or WWF-Turkey, and Coca-Cola Turkey signed onto a joint irrigation project in Kıpkırı Village recently.
There has been no water entering or exiting Bafa Lake except rainfall in recent years. Due to the drought, the water level of Bafa Lake, located between the borders of Aydın and Muğla, has decreased below the two-meter threshold for sustainability. The lake’s water level is now just 1.55 meters.
According to the project, "Water for Bafa, Plenty for Aegean," 360,000 square meters of agricultural area surrounding the lake will be irrigated through a "drop system" that aims to save 70 percent of water currently used in irrigation. The project targeted to save 60 millions tons of water annually, equal to 10 Abant lakes worth of water, will be implemented in Söke, Didim and Milas as pilot projects over a two-year period. WWF-Turkey and Coca-Cola Turkey will spend $1 million on the five-year project, and reach 3,000 farmers in 12 villages.
Coca-Cola Turkey President Ahmet Burak said Coca-Cola aimed to regain every drop of water it used in production. According to Burak, stating drought was threatening the entire world. "Today, we are all aware that water is vitally important for the sustainability of nature, society and commercial companies. More than 1 billion people in the world do not have access to drinkable water. Diminishing water reserves is endangering the future of humanity, in addition to damaging wildlife. More than 20 percent of 10,000 fresh water creatures have perished in the last 20 to 30 years. Some 41 percent of the world's population lives near riverbeds at risk of drying out. One in three people are expected to have difficulty reaching water by 2025. We, as Coca-Cola, in such an environment, want to contribute to the sustainability of the water sources around Bafa Lake."
WWF-Turkey General Manager Dr. Filiz Demirayak also said Bafa Lake, where they will implement the project, is a showcase of Turkish biodiversity, containing 25 plant, 261 bird, 22 reptile and 19 mammal species.
Pointing out that the water level at the lake has decreased approximately two meters in the last two decades, Demirayak said, "With this project, Bafa Lake and the Aegean region will gain plenty of water. It is possible to prevent drought at the lake and also irrigate arable lands with this project. Using the drop system, people and the lake's wildlife can live in harmony. The drop system aims to save water and energy, and create productivity. In this system, farmers irrigate products rather than fields and so use limited water reserves logically.
According to various scientific reports, the water level of the lake had to remain at the two-meter mark to conserve the ecological balance of the lake. The water level decreased to 1.60 meters with two years of drought and a lack of water in the Büyük Menderes river.
The deputy manager of the 21st district of the Public Waterworks Administration, Mehmet Kurugöllü, said the other problem at Bafa Lake is olive oil factories discharging wastewater into the lake, right next to fishing companies who operate around the lake. Waste being dumped into the lake is making pollution another main problem of the lake.