The Bosphorus - which divides Istanbul into the European and Asian side - is one of the most active and most polluted rivers in the world. Resident Alina Lehtinen discovers it's not the garbage but sewerage that is the key pollutant in the city's ailing waterways.
Istanbul, a massive city of around 15 million people, is surrounded by water. Massive population growth - together with rapid industrialism - has put increasing pressure on the Bosphorus, with the city's leaders warning that the current water treatment facilities are not sufficient enough for the future.
In the last 70 years the population of Istanbul has grown 15-fold and this rapid urban development has come at a price: the Bosphorus, which has been used as a garbage dumb for centuries, is now so badly polluted that floating rubbish is a common sight alongside many of Istanbul's waterfront neighbourhoods.
"The sea takes almost all the garbage. The population is too big and getting bigger all the time," warns Tanla Silay, Communications Coordinator of Turkish Marine Environment Protection Association (TURMEPA).
TURMEPA- founded in 1994 -is one of the first environmental organisations in Turkey focusing on the waterways. One of its first projects was to cleanup the Bosphorus and this year around 70 kilos of garbage was removed from the river, the majority - 80% - was plastic.
The main problem, however, is not the rubbish thrown in the Bosphorus, but the sewage water pumped into it, according to Silay. "80% of the water doesn't get properly treated. The municipality is not making enough efforts with water treatment plants, because it's costly," she adds.
Article continues at ENN affiliate, Ecologist
Istanbul image via Shutterstock