≡ Menu

Water Wars in Istanbul Turkey

Water Wars in Istanbul, Turkey

A friend of mine once proclaimed that, “The water wars have begun.”

I remembered his words as I turned on the evening news last night to find protesters in Istanbul fighting police at the World Water Forum.

“Anti-riot police dispersed some 300 demonstrators against the forum as they headed to the venue buildings, detaining at least 15. The protesters, whose rally had been called by unions, environmentalists, and leftist organisations, responded to tear gas by hurling rocks and beating officers with sticks. They chanted slogans such as “water is people, it’s life, it’s not for sale,” and “we want to crush this forum which wants to take our water.”

I imagine that I will be watching many more news stories like this in the years to come. The water wars have begun.
Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
in Eskisehir, Turkey- March 17, 2009
Travelogue Travel Photos –Travel Guide
Click on map to view route.

Perhaps the people of Istanbul are angry because their drinking water has been almost 100% turned over to private companies who deliver water to people’s homes in large plastic jugs. Bottled water has become a concrete convention in all of the places in Turkey that I have traveled to so far.

Bottle water being delivered ın Eskisehir, Turkey.

It is said that it is not healty to drink the tap water in the urban areas of Turkey, but it seems to me that the municipalities have perhaps allowed this to happen intentionally. In many of the European countries that border Turkey, the tap water is still drinkable. I must wonder why Turkey is different.

It is my impression that it is likely that municipalities are no longer putting strong effort into safegaurding the tap water supply because so many people seem to be fine buying bottled water. Governments tend not to do what they do not HAVE to do. The Turkish government does not have to offer clean drining water because the people are buyıng water from private companies, and the people now have to buy from private companies because their governments no longer provide them with drinkable tap water. It is the ongoing cycle of new social conventions.

Once a social convention is set in place, it can rarely be retroactivated.

But this is a growing trend that is taking over the world. It seems as if many parts of the globe are in a major transition from having bottled water being a chooseable luxery to having it be the only choice available. The more bottled water you buy now, the more likely it is that you will HAVE to buy bottle water for ever after.

I fear that once a governmental body is freed from the responsibility of providing cheap drinking water from the tap, they will never provide this service again. Country after country is allowing its drinking water distribution to be taken over by private companies. Turkey is only one example of this.

Social conventions never return from where they came from. The more people rely on bottled water now, the more they will have to rely on it in the future. Privately owned bottled water companies are taken over the drinking water supply around the world. The days of free water are over.

The water wars have begun.

Protesters fighting polıce at the world water forum in Istanbul.

Future of Drinking Water

Water Wars in Istanbul, Turkey

Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+0Share on LinkedIn0Pin on Pinterest0Share on Reddit0Share on StumbleUpon0Digg thisPrint this pageEmail this to someone
Filed under: Eastern Europe, Europe, Turkey

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 80 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3169 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

Support Wade Shepard’s travels:

Wade Shepard is currently in: Puketi Forest, New ZealandMap