Istanbul water levels running low as residents wash hands - expert

Water levels in Istanbul have dropped to their second lowest point in the past 10 years as people use more water to wash their hands due to the coronavirus, the news site Diken said on Wednesday.

The water level is currently 31 percent lower compared to the same period last year, a reduction from 94 percent of capacity to 63.92 percent of capacity, said Hüseyin Toros, professor of engineering at Istanbul Technical University. 

Toros said that water shortages could become a major problem for the city in the summer with the city’s added water use, low levels of rainfall in 2019, and rainfall likely decreasing this year in the coming months. 

“We need to wash our hands with soapy water, as experts say. But if we do not pay attention to the use of water, the water level in the reservoirs will decrease in the coming summer period and may create a troubling period for us,” he said. 

Toros said turning taps on to wash hands for 20 seconds, as recommend by some experts, used around two litres of water. He said that it would be more advisable to turn the tap on to wet the hands, turn it off and soap the hands for 20 to 25 seconds, then turn it on again to rinse the hands, which he said would only use around 300ml of water. 

However, Diken reported that Istanbul municipality officials have said that they had not seen a significant increase in the water supplied to Istanbul in recent weeks and said that water used in workplaces would decrease as many have closed their doors due to the coronavirus.