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Turkey’s Water Policy Framework


Turkey’s water policy and management is a feature of various laws and regulations, and is subject to a range of national ministries and executive administrations. Some of the legislation governing water management dates back to the early years of the Republic. Due to numerous amendments and additions to the existing legislation in the course of time, water management in Turkey ceased to be simple.


  • Groundwater Resource
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Civil Code
  • Water Sector
  • Hydropower Generation

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  1. 1.

    For instance, Village Act No. 442, 1924 and the Act No. 831 on Waters, 1926

  2. 2.

    TMMOB is a corporate body and a professional organization defined in the form of a public institution as stated in Article 135 of the Turkish Constitution. As an umbrella organization, it has 23 chambers and about 300,000 members.

  3. 3.

    ‘Codes’ also stand for ‘Laws’ as well as for ‘Acts’.

  4. 4.

    Responsibilities of Water and Sewage Administrations (within the border of all metropolitan municipalities) are to take legal, technical and administrative measures for preventing groundwater pollution and decreasing quantity. Supplying potable water to rural communities by drilling groundwater wells is one of the main duties of the Special Provincial Administrations after the abolition of GDRS (see Vliegenthart et al. 2007, 68-69).

  5. 5.

    Article 87 of the Turkish Constitution authorizes the Turkish Grand National Assembly to make, amend, and abrogate laws. Legislative bills are proposed by the Council of Ministers and individual deputies as stated in Article 88. Such bills are debated and adopted by the Parliament in its plenary session in accordance with the Constitution and the Standing Orders of the Grand National Assembly. The Constitution requires a simple majority for the adoption of ordinary laws in Article 96. Legislative bills adopted by the Grand National Assembly are submitted to the President of the Republic in accordance with Article 89 of the Constitution. The President shall either sign the bill within fifteen days or return it partially or entirely to the Grand National Assembly for reconsideration within the same period. However, budget laws are excluded from this power of the President due to time considerations. If the Grand National Assembly readopts the bill without a change the bill shall be promulgated by the President. Laws are only enacted by publication in the Official Gazette. Law amending ordinances (decree-laws) have the same legal effects as laws. By-laws are regulated in Article 124 of the Constitution. The Prime Ministry, the ministries, and public corporate bodies may issue by-laws in order to ensure the application of laws and regulations relating to their particular fields of operation, provided that they are not contrary to these laws and regulations.  The law shall designate which by-laws are to be published in the Official Gazette (see Yazici 2009).

  6. 6.

    Associated with the strategic role water plays for the Turkish economy, water policy, in terms of funding, puts much more emphasis on water development than on protection.

  7. 7.

    The Regional Directorates of DSI are organized in a way that their respective jurisdictions cover main river basins.

  8. 8.

    The Union of Municipalities of Turkey, Accessed 28 May 2010.

  9. 9.

    Since 2001, with the adoption of the Electricity Market Law No. 4628, an independent public institution, namely the Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EMRA was created for issuing licenses for production activities (including hydropower generation) in the electricity market. For hydropower projects in order for private sector to get licenses a Water Use Right Agreement should be signed between the DSI and the private entrepreneur (see Electricity Market Licensing By-Law No. 248364, 2002).

  10. 10.

    With the Electricity Market Law No. 4628 of 2001 and the Renewable Energy Law No. 5346 of 2005, the Turkish government envisaged the acceleration the development of the underexploited potential by inviting private investors and private financial service institutions (see Scheumann in this volume).

  11. 11.

    Article 10 of Law No. 1053 has recently been amended. The Amended Law No. 5625 has revoked the city criteria (cities with a population of which is over 100,000) and extended the duties of DSI. Thus, since 2007, DSI has been authorized for the domestic and industrial water supply of 3,225 settlements all over Turkey, which have municipality administrations. The Law stipulates that, if necessary, DSI could give priority to wastewater treatment plants in progress.

  12. 12.

    A form of transfer considered innovative, where the irrigation scheme covers more than one local administrative unit (for example, a village or municipality).

  13. 13.

    With the Act No. 5302, adopted in 2005, 81 SPAs are established in the country; one in each province. The SPAs cover areas that fall neither within municipal nor village boundaries. The SPAs are the public entities enjoying administrative and financial autonomy, which are set up to meet the local and common needs of the people dwelling in the province, and whose decision-making branch (general provincial assembly) is elected and made up by electors. They are composed of the general provincial assembly, the provincial council and the governor. The governor (chief executive of the province and principal agent of the central government) is the chief of the Special Provincial Administration and the representative of its legal personality.

  14. 14.

    Act No. 5286 on the Abolishment of the General Directorate of Rural Affairs, 2005.

  15. 15.

    A World Bank team, conducting a study on key irrigation policy, institutional, and especially investment issues in Turkey in 2006, paid visits to the former Regional Head of GDRS in Izmir who was appointed later on as the head of the technical wing of the SPAs. The following observations are interesting in this respect: “When GDRS was dissolved the SPAs’ technical staff were merged with the GDRS staff in the former GDRS building; the investment budget for the unit has reduced considerably since the GDRS period, it is now some 500,000 YTL per annum whereas before it was 60 million YTL for the GDRS region (the region covered 3 provinces, whereas the SPA covers only one province). Moreover, it was reported that the Council of the SPA was not interested in irrigation development, land consolidation or drainage; it is more interested in rural water supply and rural roads, and in urban development. The SPAs have been completing some of the existing irrigation and drainage (I&D) projects but have not planned any further I&D projects” (World Bank 2006, 62).

  16. 16.

    Soganci is Head of the Board of the TMMOB.

  17. 17.

    TEMA was founded in 1992 and has been since then one of the leading NGOs in Turkey with specific focus on soil protection, protection of natural habitats and erosion control.

  18. 18.

    KOYDES (Village Infrastructure Support Project) being underway since 2005, has been implemented by the Directorate General of Local Administrations, Ministry of Interior. The aim of the Project is declared as to solve village problems related to potable water, and roads, with minimum costs and in the shortest possible time under the leadership of governors and district governors, Special Provincial Administration and village service provision units (Kapucu and Palabiyik 2008, 163).

  19. 19.

    A municipal administration can be established in settlements having more than 5,000 inhabitants.

  20. 20.

    A comparison of the debt structures of the Bank of Provinces and DSI reveals that 25 to 50 percent of DSI’s investments are financed through foreign credits whereas the Bank of Provinces uses its own financial resources (Cinar 2006, 230-39).

  21. 21.

    The World Bank has provided credits worth US$1217.7 million in total for projects in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Bursa, Antalya, and Cesme-Alacati (Cinar 2006, 230-39).

  22. 22.

    Act No. 4856 on the Organization and Duties of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, 2003.

  23. 23.

    Su Kanunu Tasarisi Taslagi (Draft Water Law), 2001, on file with the authors.

  24. 24.

    See Sumer and Muluk in this volume for further discussion on Turkey’s alignment with the EU water acquis.

  25. 25.

    The EU WFD Project 2004, “Implementation of European Union Water Framework Directive in Turkey” Project (MAT01/TR/9/3), 2002-2004, Institutional and Legal Strengthening Report.


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Kibaroglu, A., Baskan, A. (2011). Turkey’s Water Policy Framework. In: Kramer, A., Kibaroglu, A., Scheumann, W. (eds) Turkey's Water Policy. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

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