Lake Tuz is the second largest lake in Turkey after Lake Van, and is one of the largest hypersaline lakes in the World.
The lake is located in a closed basin called the Konya basin, lying in three provinces: Ankara, Konya and Aksarayn. The lake can be found 105 kilometers northeast of Konya, 150 kilometers southeast of Ankara and 57 kilometers northwest of Aksaray.
The lake fills a tectonic depression in the central part of the country. It is fed by two major streams (Pecenek and Melendiz rivers), as well as by ground water and surface water. The lake itself has no outlets.
A number of smaller lakes surround Lake Tuz, such as Kulu, Samsam, Uyuz, and Kozanlisaz. Arable fields generally surround the lake, except in the southern and southwestern part, where salt-steppe can be found, the result of extensive seasonal floods. At the mouth of the streams and channels entering the lake, brackish marshes dominate.
The poor inflow is due to the fact that the lake lies in the least rainfall receiving area in all of the country. That’s why most of the year Lake Tuz is very shallow, its maximum depth being 1.5 meters. The average rainfall in the area is 250 millimeters per year. The lake’s water levels are increased during winter months, when part of the salt is dissolved in the fresh water introduced to the lake by surface runoff and precipitation. In the summer the lake dries up and exposes a 30 centimeter thick salt layer in the month of August.
The density of the water is 1225 gr/cm3 while its salt percentage is 32.4%. Because of Lake Tuz’s high salinity, 3 mines operate on extracting, working, refining and selling salt, making up 63% of the salt consumed in the country.
Environment and Concerns
From 2001 Lake Tuz is considered a specially protected area along with all of its surface and the surrounding waterbeds and steppe areas. It is the main breeding place in Turkey to a colony of greater flamingo, which breed on the islands of the lake. It also the breeding place for the lesser kestrel.
Industrial pollution as well as the incorrect use of under- and over-ground waters causes concerns regarding the natural environment of Lake Tuz and its surroundings. The World Wildlife Found (WWF) in contribution with the Authority for the Specially Protected Areas (ASPA) aim to conserve and rehabilitate the unique ecosystem around Lake Tuz.