AYDIN - After fish deaths and a substantial decrease in productivity, the major pollution problem in 21-meter deep Bafa Lake is finally being solved in a natural way. Although wastewater containing chemicals pollute the lake in the Western city of Aydın, the olive plants in the area are helping prevent the harmful effects of pollution.

Located in the southeastern part of the Büyük Menderes River, Bafa Lake, having a depth of 21 meters, assists with the elimination of environmental pollution in the area.

Wastewater containing chemicals pollute the river, but oxygen in the water is provided by olive plants in the area.

"These plants assist with decreasing the effects of pollution in the lake," said Muhsin Örnek, chairman of the Söke Chamber of Agriculture. "The variety of a given crop depends on clean soil."

Akyeniköy, most negatively affected
"The cleanup of nature is of great importance for sustainability," the chairman added. "We work in collaboration with the Natural Life Protection Society."

"We are very pleased with the olive plants in the district that help to prevent the harmful effects of pollution," said Yılmaz Öz, mayor of Akyeniköy, which is dubbed as the most polluted district in the region.

Pollution in Bafa Lake, one of the most important wetlands in the Aegean region, has caused fish deaths and a substantial decrease in productivity, said Rıza Posacı, the chairman of the Chamber of the Agriculture in the city of Aydın.

Posacı also declared water levels in the Büyük Menderes River had decreased as a result of water drought in 2007 that in turn had increased pollution levels.

"Olive plants in the region have created pools and these pools filter the polluted water." The water collected in the pool evaporates and residue remaining at the bottom is used as fuel oil, said Yalçın Kocakaya, the owner of a plant nearthe Bafa Lake.

"We are quite sensitive about this issue because we also own tourism facilities in the district.

The cleanup of the lake is important for the future of tourism in the area. The tourism agents have canceled tours here and tourists no longer visit as the lake stinks," he said.

"The authorities should prohibit the release of polluted water into the Menderes River.

Bafa Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes in Turkey and we want to return it to its better days.

The future of our children depends on the lake," said Bahattin Sürücü, chairman of Kuşadası Eco-System Protection and Nature Lovers Foundation.

’Saving Bafa Lake’
Stating that research they had conducted into the rivers that stream into the lake shows pollution levels in Bafa Lake have substantially decreased this year, Sürücü said.

"Those who pollute the lake directly or indirectly should show sensitivity to the issue," Sürücü added. "Nearby tourism facilities should build purification plants and take all the necessary precautions to prevent further pollution of the lake. We should save one of the most beautiful and precious lakes of our country with all its nature, history, culture, birds and myths."