Lake Bafa, home to numerous rare bird and plant species, is slowly dying out due to pollution that is believed to come from excess chemicals from nearby factories
Untreated wastewater from factories in Muğla’s Bafa town is draining into Lake Bafa, which is at severe risk of losing its ecological richness if urgent measures are not taken.
A large number of plants, birds and other species are at severe risk amid continuing pollution problems that are seriously affecting southwestern Turkey’s Bafa Lake, which is not far from the Aegean resort town of Didim.
“First the water turned green, and now snow-like foam has formed on it, meaning that it is getting dirtier each day,” Ecosystem Protection and Nature-Lovers Association (EKODOSD) member Professor Erol Kesici recently said.
Untreated wastewater from factories in Muğla’s Bafa town is draining into the lake, EKODOSD said, adding that in addition to the pollution coming from factories to the east, a fish farm on the lake’s western shore was also directly releasing waste into the body of water.
Lake is shared
The environmental organization also warned that a second fish farm might be built, potentially compounding the problem.
Ultimately, EKODOSD concluded that the main problem was that the lake was shared by the provinces of Muğla and Aydın, meaning that neither Aegean province was taking full responsibility for the body of water’s wellbeing.
The lake, which is home to 25 plant, 261 bird, 22 reptile and 19 mammal species, lacks a fresh water source, and it is especially overcome by pollution during the summer months.
“During winter, the lake gets rain. However, even though it gets fresh water, the lake foams like this. This could be worse during the summer months,” he said, recommending that biological cleaning systems and methods should be used to purify the lake.
“Bafa Lake’s water ecosystem environs, river basin and soil structure is the best and cheapest purifier for the environment; it is a depository for streams. That’s why for years every chemical that comes from Menderes Lake has gathered in Bafa,” he said.
Kesici said the foam meant that every kind of bacteria could be formed on the water, adding that the water was unfit for any use by other humans or animals.
After EKODOSD reported on the pollution to the State Hydraulic Works (DSİ), a team arrived to take examples from the lake.
The examples will be analyzed in laboratories, leading to hopes that the reason for the excessive pollution will be determined. Locals, however, say the chemicals come from Menderes Lake.
The Büyük Menderes River, the main water source for Lake Bafa, was diverted in 1985 for irrigation, causing a change in the lake’s ecosystem. The lack of water in the lake has resulted in an increase in salinity that has harmed underwater plants; when the plants float to the surface, they give off a bad smell, especially in summer. The fertility of the fields around the lake has also decreased because of the excessive salt in the lake. Officials have also begun canceling tourist trips to the lake, hurting the area’s economy.
Approximately 2,000 years ago, Lake Bafa was a bay on the Aegean Sea called the “Gulf of Lade.” Due to the alluvial mass of the Büyük Menderes River, the bay was slowly separated from the sea, eventually becoming an inland body of water. The gulf, later the lake, was called Latmus in ancient times.