| PROF. DR. CUMALİ KINACI, DIRECTOR GENERAL OF WATER MANAGEMENT OF THE MINISTRY OF FORESTRY AND WATER AFFAIRS : “WE AIM AT OVERCOMING LACK OF COORDINATION IN WATER MANAGEMENT”
Prof. Dr. Cumali Kınacı, Director General of Water Management of the Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs stated that many Turkish institutions and organizations on water management have tasks and responsibilities on water; and he also indicated that at least seven ministries have authority on this subject, and that they do not work in coordination while exercising these authorities. Prof. Dr. Kınacı, who stated that General Directorate of Water Management (SYGM) which was established on July 6th 2011 started to carry out its activities in order to overcome the lack on this field, highlighted that as a new institution, they aim at establishing a national policy by trying to gather many institutions and organizations in a more productive way.
ORSAM: First of all, could you tell us about yourself?
Cumali KINACI: I graduated from Istanbul Technical University as a civil engineer in 1980. I have been working in the Department of Environmental Engineering of Istanbul Technical University (ITU) since January 26th 1981. I also served as Head of the Department of Environmental Engineering, besides working as faculty member. I worked as Director General of Environmental Management from October 22nd 2010 to July 11th 2011. During the restructuring process in water sector, General Directorate of Water Management under the Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs was established on July 6th 2011, with the Decree-Law No. 645, which entered into force after having promulgated in Official Journal dated 04.07.2011. I am the first personnel of this General Directorate, and I was appointed as Director General of Water Management on July 14th 2011. For a while, I was the only personnel of the Directorate. Therefore, I consider the General Directorate of Water Management as my own child. I have an academic career in Environmental Engineering on subjects such as; water management, treatment technologies, and environmental economics. I serve as Director General of Water Management having permission from ITU on duty basis.
ORSAM: What is the objective of establishment of the Directorate General of Water Management?
Cumali KINACI: As the name implies, the General Directorate of Water Management was established to provide the management of water. Currently, many institutions and organizations in Turkey have duty and authority on water. At least seven ministries have authority on this subject, and that they do not work in coordination while exercising these authorities. Conflicts and overlaps take place while exercising the authority. Back in time, certain duties and authorities were assigned to different institutions in line with the requirements. Then, it was required to establish water management as a general directorate. Similarly, one of the primary requests of the EU Water Framework Directive is the establishment of General Directorate of Water Management (SYGM) as an organization, separate from investment organizations. In the current situation, General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works (DSI) is structured for investment, and it is also a party as it serves for investment. Water can be used for purposes of drinking and domestic, irrigation, energy generation, industrial, maintenance of wildlife, transportation, aquaculture, recreation, and touristic. Each of these consumers is found in separate places. Because a water resource could have a different priority when looked from DSI's point of view, a different priority when looked from an institution/organization's point of view, and again a different priority when looked from a citizen's point of view. An institution to evaluate all these purposes together, to put forward general principles, to coordinate, to develop legislation, and to set standard and criteria is required. Up till now, institutions/organizations have worked on the basis of separate projects. For instance, DSI built a dam, and it only worked on the issues related to the management of this dam’s basin. However, this project should be assessed as a whole on the basis on river basin. As for Sakarya Basin; it begins from Ankara and Kütahya and covers an area encompassing Adapazarı, Bilecik, and even a part of Bursa. Ankara creek, which passes through Ankara, flows from Adapazarı into the Black Sea through Sakarya River. In this basin, everyone uses water for different purposes. Some of them decrease the amount of water flowing to the downstream by drawing water from river for different purposes such as drinking, domestic, irrigation and industrial needs; on the other hand others negatively affect the water use of people, who live in lower part of the basin, by pouring their wastewater into Sakarya River. Therefore, it is necessary to consider and manage a basin as a whole. In line with all these objectives, the General Directorate of Water Management was established.
ORSAM: What are the cooperative institutions of the General Directorate of Water Management?
Cumali KINACI: The General Directorate of Water Management have started to work in cooperation with many institutions and organizations such as General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works (DSI), Turkish State Meteorological Service, General Directorate of Forestry, General Directorate of Combating Desertification and Erosion, General Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks, General Directorate of Environmental Management, General Directorate of EIA and Planning, Bank of Provinces, Ministry of Food,Agriculture and Livestock, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Interior which municipalities are affiliated to, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (on transboundary waters), Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) in particular. In addition to this, institutions and organizations such as the Water Institute and ORSAM are among other cooperative organizations.
ORSAM: Turkey has an experience on water management dating back to many years ago. And today, where do we stand in terms of plans related to agricultural, domestic and industrial use of all our basins?
Cumali KINACI: It is hard to say that Turkey has a long-term experience on basin management. The water management on the basis of basin has entered in Turkey's agenda for the last ten years. Currently, “Basin Protection Action Plans” have been prepared. There are 25 basins in Turkey. And basin protection action plans of 11 basins out of these 25 have been prepared. And the protection action plans of the remaining 14 basins were contracted out to the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey Marmara Research Center (TUBITAK-MAM), on December 7th 2011. These aforesaid plans will have been completed by December 2013. The next level is to put the Basin Protection Action Plans into practice. Right after, beginning from 2013, the preparations of Basin Management Plans for the basins, of which basin protection action plans completed, will be launched.
When the Basin Protection Plans are prepared, a new structuring, in which basins are considered as a whole, will be launched. This situation brings along radical and fundamental changes both for Ministry of Interior, and for other General Directorates and institutions. Both the central organization will be established in Ankara, and also their extensions will be established in basins. For example, Kızılırmak Basin Organization will be created. And many stakeholders, including the users of water, will have a say in the administration of this organization. Right now, I cannot give more details on it, as the subject has not grown mature yet. It is necessary to discuss a lot and to make fundamental legal changes on the subject. The preparations on this issue will be launched in the forthcoming years.
ORSAM: What kind of projects has been conducted by the General Directorate of Water Management, right now?
Cumali KINACI: As I have already mentioned, General Directorate of Water Management (SYGM) is a unit, which was established from scratch, only six months ago. The administrative structure was created by transferring personnel from many different general directorates, and on the other hand, newly graduates were recruited and they started to be trained on what they will work on. SYGM is not a structure, which was created upon division of another institution or organization. The majority of its duties are defined for the first time, and they are all new subjects also for bureaucracy. In brief, majority of our duties will be carried out for the first time. On the other hand, our organizational studies also continue. Therefore, it is possible to say that we have newly started to carry out activities.
Right now, we are trying to complete basin protection action plans for all the basins. Studies on determination of special provision for the protection of drinking water basins still continue. Imagine a dam lake, from which drinking water is provided. Implementing the regulation, which is implemented across Turkey, on that dam lake could lead to problems in terms of quality and quantity of water. The General Directorate of Water Management is aware of the fact that it is necessary to evaluate water not only in terms of quantity but also in terms of quality. This year, preparations to determine special provision on Lake Eğridir, Porsuk Dam Lake, and on Atatürk Dam Lake have been completed; and currently, studies on determination of special provision on totally 13 drinking waters have been completed. Preparations to determine special provision for approximately 30 drinking water basins will be launched in the forthcoming period. With the protocol, which was signed with TUBITAK-MAM on December 7th 2011, the preparations to determine special provision on Lake Beyşehir and Karacaören Dam Lake were launched.
In addition to these activities, we also carry out activities on effective use of water. We attach importance to reuse of waste waters. For example, we have launched activities on reuse of domestic waste waters in irrigation. Firstly, we are launching a project on the usability of domestic waste waters in irrigation on Akarçay Closed Basin by receiving a 750.000 Euro fund from the government of the Netherlands. We also have a project to establish two networks, to reuse treated wastewaters , and to establish separate networks for drinking and domestic waters starting from big tourist facilities.
In which city in Turkey there is a water leakage, how much water leakage they have, and how these leakages could be controlled are very important issues. To this end, we have launched an inventory study on water leakages. At the same time, we are starting the study of water footprint, which means amount of water per units such as person, product, institution, settlement, and country. Water footprint encompasses all waters used, including the amount of water we drink, and water used for our needs such as clothes and food. We will also launch the study to determine water footprint of person, country, and products.
In addition to this, we carry on our studies on water law. Although we have engineers, who know the water legislation very well, in Turkey; we need to increase our capacity of qualified lawyers on national and international water law. We are forming a structure, which will carry out works on this subject, audit and monitor activities, and follow the international developments. We are trying to create an expert group on water law, and to train them on this subject. We also established a separate structure on transboundary waters, and started to carry out activities. We want to develop policies, to coordinate relevant institutions and organizations, and to create a technical infrastructure. Different non-governmental organizations and government agencies work on this subject. We are aiming at a structure, which could coordinate these institutions and could assess in a way that contributes to development of government policy by being in contact with these institutions. Besides, a structure, which will both follow international relations and also develop water policy, has been created; and these units have started to carry out activities. As you see, these are difficult and challenging issues. Right now in Turkey, both non-governmental organizations and public institutions have lack of communication with one another, and both of them carry out works without any coordination. And our objective is to contribute to the formation of a national water policy by bringing these works together.
Another objective is to follow the water quality. In Turkey, many institutions and organizations try to follow the water quality in line with their objectives. However, these activities sometimes conflict with one another. We need a central structure to decide on which one of the pollution, hydrologic and hydromorphologic parameters will be measured in which stations and by whom . We aim at decreasing the cost of monitoring by carrying out activities together, and also we aim at reaching data that could be used more effectively. After having these datum, establishment of a water information system is required. Every institution has different information, and this information is used in line with the objectives of each institution, and the institutions do not want to share these data. In accordance with the establishment law of our General Directorate, all the institutions and organizations are obliged to give this information, in case we request. We are going to gather this information and we will present them to requirers except for strategic ones. We need to make a new inventory study, and to collect raw information and to assess data and to save them into database. Hydrologic and statistical evaluations should be made on these data. Hydrologic models should be set up, and applicability of the current models to our basins should be anaylsed. We also requested for a new structuring on statistics and hydrology, and our request was approved by esteemed Minister.
One of our major problems is allocation of water. Individual allocations of water are currently provided by the General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works (DSI). For instance, if we handle groundwater, individuals personally submit their applications asking “Can I drill here?”. DSI assess that application, and either approves or rejects. As these applications are not evaluated as a whole on basin basis, ground water could be overused and the water level could rapidly decline. The sectoral allocations of water on basin basis gain importance for these and similar reasons. In a water basin, it is not known within the framework of which principles the water will be used at which level for drinking water, at which level for irrigation water, at which level for energy generation, and at which level for the protection of nature. We launched a new structuring related to this, but carrying out this activity is quite difficult,because this evaluation should be made separately for each basin. Right now, we are trying to build its infrastructure. For example, it is quite difficult to answer the question, “At which level, and for what purposes will Kızılırmak be used?”; because it requires working on that basin for many years. Related to this subject, a new provision will be inserted into the Water Law. As you know, Water Law was introduced in 1926, and it was prepared within the framework of requirements of that period. Back then, the drinking and domestic water was the priority. Today, the requirements have been varied, and demands have increased. In the beginning, the quantity was calculated without quality of water. Now, the Water Law needs to be rearranged in terms of both quantity and quality. We carry on works on this subject. As SYGM, we also assumed the responsibility of coordination on developing legislation. Right now, we are working on the revision of more than 10 by-laws. Besides, we also work on many new regulations. In brief, one of the important duties of SYGM is to develop water legislation.
One of the important issues for our General Directorate is the management of water in case flood or drought takes place. We created a new structuring related to this. Firstly, we are going to make an implementation on a basin in Black Sea Region. Within this scope, measurements will be carried out under various climate conditions and at different durations of rain fall. For instance, if it rains 50 kilogram in 10 minutes, how much water will pass through different areas and cross-sections? We are going to carry out studies by changing durations and amount of rainfalls. Thus, we will prepare risk maps for that basin, and we will be able to detect measures that could be taken, thanks to these maps. We will prepare hazard maps that could come out if measures are not taken. And we will also carry out studies on dry period, which is the exact opposite of flood. For example, there is a group, working on dry periods, within the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock. However, this aforesaid group handles the subject only in terms of irrigation. As far as defined up till now, water has 12 different sectoral utilization purposes. And our unit to work on this subject is about to be established, and preparations of dry period water management plans, which will consider all the sectoral water uses, will be launched.
In addition to this, development of water quality is also under the tasks and responsibilities of our General Directorate. What should be the level of water quality for each water resource according to their intended uses in drinking-water basins? Water quality should be classified in accordance with regulations. Within this scope, hazardous substances, currently found in drinking waters, will be detected; it will be decided which one of them will be monitored with which method and at which intervals, and a regulation will be prepared accordingly. A new project was launched on this subject.
ORSAM: How are the relations of your institution with the abroad?
Cumali KINACI: One of the main objectives of the establishment of our General Directorate is to follow international relations. Turkey needs to establish national water policy, to follow a domestic policy in accordance with this policy, to follow the international developments and these developments should be transferred to relevant institutions and organizations. Please don't get my statements as “We are the only one in Turkey, and there is no need for other institutions”. We are just trying to gather many institutions and organizations in a more effective way, and aiming at forming a national policy. For instance, we are always in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We technically support this aforesaid Ministry, and take opinions on how to act in terms of international relations. We have started to work in cooperation with national institutions and organizations in order to cooperate with international institutions and organizations on technical issues. In addition to this, we have also started to follow international developments on water law and water policy. In the forthcoming periods, these developments will be reported and presented to relevant authorities.
ORSAM: Is there any subject you would like to add?
Cumali KINACI: I've tried to explain very quickly the current situation, duties, and plans of our General Directorate. I might have skipped some essential points. With the establishment of a new general directorate, it could take some time for the society to understand what tasks and responsibilities are. For the productivity of our General Directorate, we need to cooperate with other institutions and organizations. We may not be always successful in introducing our institution. In this sense, the support of organizations such as ORSAM is important for us. It is required to carry out activities on what should be the national water policy of Turkey, and how different institutions could come together. There are many notable think-tanks in foreign countries. Our country needs similar think-tanks as well. In this respect, ORSAM and the establishment of new organizations are quite important. It is non-governmental organizations' responsibility to assess many alternatives, to produce opinions, and to share these opinions with government agencies. The public also needs to support them. It is very important for State institutions and organizations and non-governmental organizations such as ORSAM to exchange ideas with one another.
Lastly, I would like to add another point. As I have already mentioned, our General Directorate has just been established and it is an institution which has been trying to be organized from scratch. Considerable amount of its duties are quite new for the public opinion and for bureaucracy, and it is not quite possible to find qualified man power on some of these issues. For instance, this is the case in sectoral allocation of water on basin basis. It could take some time for our General Directorate to organize with qualified man power and to complete its infrastructure. Tolerance, patience and cooperation with other institutions/organizations on these issues are quite important for performance and motivation of personnel. I believe that what our General Directorate has made, will make and its importance for our country will be seen and understood much better within a short period of time like 2-3 years.
ORSAM: Thank you very much for your time.
* This interview was carried out by ORSAM Water Research Programme Specialist Dr. Seyfi Kılıç in Ankara, on December 8th 2011.