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Testing the water - Kalkan tap water and sea water quality PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Kalkan WaterLast week we invited a company from Antalya to come and explain the benefits of having a water filter system installed.

Despite torrential rain which transformed the road outside Kaya restaurant into a small river around 35 people turned out to listen to the presentation and to ask questions.

In this report we provide a few details from the meeting and give you our take on how useful we think water filters are.  We also report on the water quality in Kalkan.  We thought you might be interested in both the water supplied to our taps and also the quality of the sea water.

Kalkan water from Saklıkent
Before we look at water filters let’s start by understanding the quality of the mains water supply here in Kalkan.  Our water originates high up in the Taurus mountains where precipitation collects in streams and rivers that run down to Saklıkent Gorge, from where it is pumped through underground pipes all the way to Kalkan.

The water supply used to be the responsibility of the local Belediye but that changed in 2014 when the Belediye moved from Kalkan to Kaş and responsibility for our water was transferred to a company called ASAT, based in Antalya.

Water test resultsPeople have all sorts of opinions on the water supply.  We have always been told it is drinkable but has a high mineral content.  But we don’t think you can beat hard facts, so we asked ASAT to let us see the water quality test results for Kalkan.

Kalkan test results from 6th February 2018
Water was taken from two locations for testing: one of the main water depots in town and the other from the water fountain opposite the post office on Mustafa Kocakaya Caddesi.  We reviewed the test results for both with a local chemist and we also sought the views of a retired senior executive from a large UK water company.

The tests appear to have been conducted to recognised standards and the reports indicate compliance for a full range of parameters.  The test results show that we have good water quality in Kalkan.

Test parameters
The tests considered the smell, taste and colour of the water plus the pH value (recorded as 8 - within the normal range).

It also looked at a range of dissolved solids that are found in water such as nitrates, sulphates, magnesium, potassium, ammonium, sodium, fluoride, bromide, chlorine and phosphates.  There were no abnormal findings.  The tests also checked for E. coli and coliform (harmful bacteria that indicate sewage or animal waste contamination) and we are happy to say that no traces were found.

ASAT waterAs at the test date we can say that Kalkan tap water meets required standards and unless you are particularly sensitive to the mineral content in water there are no health reasons why you shouldn’t drink it.  See the section below on water filters.

KTLN intends to obtain test results on a regular basis and we will share details with KTLN readers. 

Breaks in the water supply
We should add a caveat here concerning water quality following breaks in the mains supply.  In our experience the quality of the water is often impaired for a short time following pipe repairs and other similar maintenance procedures.  Debris can enter the water and can lead to temporary contamination and discolouring.  At such times it is advisable to flush through any discoloured water until the supply runs clear again.

Sea water quality
The quality of sea water along our part of the Turquoise Coast is tested regularly during the tourist season.

If you want to check it out any time here is the place to look: http://yuzme.saglik.gov.tr

Kalkan is accredited with three Blue Flag locations: the public town beach, Patara Prince Resort and Kalamar Beach Club.

Here are some charts for local beaches indicating how clean they were in 2016 and 2017. 

Below: Key to water test results.  We are happy to report that with just the odd exception all beaches were assessed as being in the top category [blue smiley face].  At no time did any of these beaches give any test results categorised as “Beach should not be used” [red sad face].

Sea water standards

Below: Kalkan town beach.  Apart from one isolated reading in September 2016 when the reading went into the “Good Quality/Swimmable” category [green face], the tests showed a high quality [blue smiley face].
Beach water quality 2016/2017

Below: Kaputaş Beach.  Apart from two readings in September 2016 and July 2017 when the readings went into the “Good Quality/Swimmable” category [green face], the tests showed a high quality [blue smiley face].
Beach water quality 2016/2017

Below: Patara Beach.  In 2016 and 2017 the sea was consistently marked as high quality [blue smiley face].
Beach water quality 2016/2017

Below: The Küçük Çakıl Beach in Kaş.  Apart from two readings in June 2016 and September 2017 when the readings went into the “Good Quality/Swimmable” category [green face], the tests showed a high quality [blue smiley face].

Beach water quality 2016/2017

It's reassuring to see that for most of the time the quality of the sea water is high [blue smiley face] but we can’t be complacent.  There has been the occasional dip.  We can only hope that the authorities carry out appropriate checks to ensure that all environmental protection rules are being observed.

Water filtersWater filters - essential or just nice to have?
The test results for Kalkan’s water supply are encouraging.  At a time where some are trying to break our addiction to plastic, perhaps water filters can give us the confidence to say no to plastic water bottles and drink tap water instead - as many local people already do.  But do you need a water filter? 

When it comes to water filters there are a number of factors worth considering.  The taste (aesthetics); health factors; convenience and the cost - both in terms of money and also the cost to our environment.

Taste (aesthetics)
People tend to like water that looks crystal clear and doesn’t have any unpalatable taste or odour.  It’s a personal thing.  We know some people who actually like to smell a hint of chlorine because it reassures them about cleanliness.  Basic mechanical water filters and carbon based (GAC) filters do remove dissolved solids that would give the water a taste, so if you like your water crystal clear and "taste free" a filter will help.  Water bought in plastic bottles tends to have a subtle hint of plastic in the taste which some people find unpalatable.

Health factors
Filtered water can be safer, but it depends on the type of filter system you use.  Something like a simple jug filter (a mechanical filter) will do almost nothing to make the water safer to drink but more sophisticted systems that incorporate Ultra Violet (UV) technology and Reverse Osmosis (RO) membranes do make a real difference in filtering out harmful organisms.

Water filters are more convenient because good quality drinking water is literally available on tap.  This is preferable to having to go and buy bottled water from the shops, and requires no effort, unlike the manhandling required to place a 19 litre damacan bottle on to a water dispenser.

Cost - money
The initial cost of a water filter system can range from approximately 1,000TL to 2,000TL, depending on the type of system you want.  Basic mechanical filters will be cheaper, whilst RO and UV systems will cost more.  Filters must be changed regularly.  The annual maintenance cost could be in the region of 200TL to 350TL.

How does that compare to buying water in plastic bottles?  Take an example of a couple drinking 2 litres of water each per day, and using about the same amount again for things like cooking and having guests round for tea or coffee - this comes to about 3,000 litres of water a year.  The cost of this amount of water from plastic water bottles would be:

  • Using 500 cl bottles: 6,000 x 0.50TL = 3,000TL
  • Using 1.5 litre bottles: 2,000 x 0.75TL = 1,500TL
  • Using 19 litre damacans: 158 x 8TL = 1,264TL 

The annual cost of 3,000 litres of water from your tap is around 4TL.  That's about 75 pence in sterling.  Add to that the maintenance costs mentioned above.

Cost - the environment
Plastic water bottles are an environmental scourge.  It is impossible to underestimate how damaging they are.

As we said in an earlier KTLN article, Kalkan has an official population of around 3,000.  If each person drank just one 500 cl bottle of water every day, in just one year that would be over one million plastic bottles thrown away.  Imagine what one million bottles would look like. Then multiply that by the several thousand visitors that come to Kalkan each year.  We should be working harder to quit our plastic addiction.

Below: Stacked bales of compressed plastic bottles in Antalya destined for recycling.

Plastic bottles being recycled in Antalya

In addition to the waste problem, bottled water has to be transported from the source to the consumer - mostly by road.  It takes fleets of lorries using diesel and pumping toxic exhaust fumes into the air, polluting the atmosphere.

So the cost to the environment of water consumed from plastic bottles is immense.  Getting your drinking water from a tap is much more eco-friendly.  #saynotoplastic

Conclusion on water filters
We know that many local people drink unfiltered tap water, and as we have shown, test results indicate that the water quality in Kalkan is good.  However we still believe that water filters can be useful.

  • Water is easily accessed through your kitchen tap - it's convenient.
  • A filter can improve the taste of the water.
  • It can remove harmful organisms that may inadvertently get into the mains supply - if you buy the right system.
  • Tap water is significantly cheaper than bottled water.
  • Filtered tap water is immeasurably better for the environment. 

So however you look at it there are a number of positives.  One of the key things to remember is that if you do splash out on some kit make sure you replace the filters on a regular basis.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 February 2018