The algal bloom in Fethiye is dominating the headlines with blame being laid at various doors. It is very important to us here at Fethiye Times that we bring you clear, concise and accurate reports of the situation, which is why we are not churning out report after report as they hit the Turkish press.

Here is the translated version of the statement made by the previous Fethiye Mayor, Behçet Saatcı on Monday.

Thank you to Sarah Louise Dunn for her support with translation.

My Honourable Citizens,

In recent days, it has been in the headlines that with regards to the pitiful state of the Gulf of Fethiye, the current managers of the waste water treatment plant, part of the infrastructure connected to the Fethiye Solar Drying Plant, have been making unjust accusations about me in an effort to cover up their own incompetence and I feel the necessity to put the public right with regards to this situation.

First of all, let us state that the main reason for all these problems is the Metropolitan Law, which we always stood firmly against. The Metropolitan Law, which entered into force in 2014, caused a confusion of authority, which excluded district municipalities and allowed the formation of an uncertain environment. As we always said, the law is a bad one and the enforcement of this law is even worse than the law itself, to the point that we have now reached these inevitable problems.

In 2014, our treatment plant was transferred to become the responsibility of the Muğla Metropolitan Municipality.

Our long-chimney biological treatment plant, which was commissioned in 2003 until 2014, is a facility that is deemed worthy of an award by the Special Environmental Protection Agency, which is responsible for our region each year. Despite the fact that we are a municipality in opposition, in terms of output values and, while we have not experienced any of the existing problems previously, we are extremely surprised to see that these accusations of incompetence and irresponsibility, which occurred after 2014 have now been blamed on us.

The Metropolitan Municipality is not being truthful about this problem. The people of Fethiye cannot be fooled!

The evaluation, which was served to the press as a new report, was started on 01.12.2015 and ended on 01.06.2017 and was the result of an inspection jointly carried out by the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization, General Directorate of Protection of Natural Assets, T.C. Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs and the Water Management Directorate, T.C. and the results of the project titled  ‘Monitoring and Evaluation of the Water Quality Parameter in Coastal Waters 115’ by TUBITAK, was carried out 2 years ago with the support of the Ministry of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications, Fethiye Port Authority, Mugla Governorate and Fethiye Municipality. A report from 2 years ago will not fool the people of Fethiye!

At the moment, the facts appear when we look at Fethiye Harbour. Fethiye is not a city that will be sacrificed to the Muğla Metropolis and central administration. Fethiye is not derelict! If it is to be fought, we can save our beautiful district from this environmental problem by making a suitable plan of action with the relevant, competent boards to be formed under the leadership of science as soon as possible and by applying it without compromise.

This is not a day for placing blame and hunting a guilty party, but rather a day for saving Fethiye Harbour together. The results of the studies conducted 15 days ago are in our hands. Nobody should be telling fairy tales or making fabrications. We know what’s what. Our nation and Fethiye bay are not just names, they are waiting for a solution.

In 2014, the water was sold by us for 140 cents a ton for the people of Fethiye to drink for 8 lira 30 cents and we want to see the protection of our environmental values.

When the authority was transferred to the Metropolitan Municipality in 2014, the preliminary feasibility study report that we had made to the German Development Bank was submitted to Yavuz Kayı (Advisor to the Mayor of Muğla Metropolitan Municipality Osman Gürün) despite them losing the first file.

During the same period, the relevant files were submitted to the chairman of the district party to be submitted to the Muğla MPs of the ruling party. If any effort has been made so far from the other end, our port would not currently be in this mess.

Fethiye earns its bread from the sea. The second phase of the construction of the Fethiye Wastewater Treatment Plant for the Muğla Metropolitan Municipality was dated in a letter on 08/11/2017 and numbered 11027 and dated 31/08/2018 and numbered 12007. The necessary warning was detailed. However, despite the warnings, the wastewater is being discharged into the sea without sufficient treatment in the facility, which has been operating for over 6 years now. In our time, we could even farm fish in the outlet water of the plant, which offers a healthy evaluation/idea of whether or not the plant was operating successfully for the previous 5 years or not. In this context, the administrative process initiated by the Muğla Governorship and Muğla Metropolitan Municipality, which is determined to cause environmental pollution, still continues. The statements were made by the Ministry officials. This is the summary that was announced to the public:

‘Turkey’s first ever Solar Drying Facility in Fethiye, which dries sludge for agricultural use, has caused a loss of 5 million liras in the space of 5 years’

As a result of the agreement between the Municipality of Fethiye and Remondis, Remondis pays rent to the Fethiye Municipality each year as a fee for use of the land. In return, the solar drying plant is owned by Remondis. This facility can take mud/sludge from any institution and dry it. If they have not demonstrated this skill so far, it is the primary responsibility of Remondis. Remondis has the right to operate until 2021, and from 2021, Remondis has specifically stated that the running of the Solar Drying Plant will be transferred to the Fethiye Municipality. The MUSKİ executives of the Municipality of Muğla, who are responsible for these works, will see their contracts with Remondis when they take the time to actually read them. Instead of pretending to know without fully understanding the situation and making accusations based on only rumours, they could at least get the official information from our authorized friends and learn the truth. Where are we on this? We just do not understand!

When it comes to those penning the metropolitan city laws, it is our natural right to want to defend the rights of the fish in Fethiye Harbour as it was for the rights of the squirrels before this.

If requested, no one should doubt that we will do our best for Fethiye and Mugla. Fethiye is our child. We would not even wish for a hair to be harmed on the head of said child. And I would like to remind you again; “There is no luxury to allow for excuses from those who are voted in by election!”

This is the point that the culture of allegiance, which currently prevails in our country, has brought us to.

With my respects,

Behçet Saatçı